Consumer protection and artificial intelligence in Kenya: Pros, cons and way forward

As the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in business continues to rise, it is crucially important to assess the impact on consumer protection.

In Kenya, AI is gaining acceptance in the fields of finance, health, and education among others.

While AI can provide benefits to businesses and consumers alike, there are also potential negatives that need to be considered.

Herein, we will explore consumer protection and AI in Kenya, including the pros, cons, and way forward.

AI has multiple benefits when it comes to consumer protection. One of the most significant benefits is an increased level of efficiency. With AI, businesses can process consumer complaints faster and more efficiently, which translates to a quicker resolution for customers.

Another benefit is the potential for increased accuracy. AI algorithms can process vast amounts of consumer data, identifying patterns and detecting fraud more effectively than humans can. This can help to prevent fraudulent or misleading practices that are harmful to consumers.

One example of this is in the banking sector, where AI is deployed in anti-fraud software to detect suspicious transactions. This can help to prevent unauthorized access, identity theft, and other fraudulent activities, ultimately strengthening consumer protection.

Despite the benefits of AI in consumer protection, there are some significant drawbacks that need to be addressed. One of the major concerns is the potential for errors or biases in automated decision-making processes.

These errors can lead to adverse impacts on consumers, such as denying them access to products or services they need.

Additionally, there is the issue of data privacy. AI requires vast amounts of consumer data to work effectively, and if that data falls into the wrong hands, it can create significant risks for consumers.

There is also the risk of AI being used as a tool for discrimination, such as selecting customers based on their race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

Way Forward
To ensure that AI does not cause harm to consumers, there are several steps that businesses and policymakers in Kenya can take. One critical step is to set ethical standards for the development and use of AI.

This framework would need to address issues such as privacy, transparency, and bias elimination.
Additionally, policymakers must ensure there are laws that regulate the use of technology in consumer protection.

These laws should be designed to limit business liability, ensure data protection, and prevent discrimination.

In conclusion, AI has the potential to revolutionize consumer protection in Kenya. It can provide faster, more efficient complaint resolution and more effective fraud detection, among other benefits.

However, there are also significant risks associated with AI, including the potential for errors, biases, and breaches of privacy.

To ensure that AI does not cause harm to consumers, there is a need for a comprehensive regulatory framework that promotes ethical AI development and use in Kenya.

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