CRAN about SIM registration positives

CHAMWE KAIRA

Critical sectors at risk of cybercrimes in Namibia identified by Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) include energy, communications, data centres, finance, transport, water and government administration.

CRAN is in the middle of enforcing a mandatory SIM Card Registration in the country and has cited cybercrimes as one of the many reasons why SIM cards must be registered.

CRAN CEO, Emilia Nghikembua points out that the use of mobile phones delivers significant economic and social benefits and plays a key role in enabling digital inclusion and delivering social benefits. But on the other hand, she argues that mobile phones are used to commit criminal activities as well.

“Through the registration of all active SIM cards, security agencies and law enforcement will be able to track criminals after following the procedures as set out in the applicable laws,” Nghikembua says.

Nghikembua further notes that having a secure and authorised digital identity has become increasingly important in a democratic society including for issues of national security, public safety, and for the prevention of crime.

“SIM registration can enable many consumers to access value-added mobile and digital services that would otherwise be unavailable to them as unregistered users. Namibia must leverage on the use of safe and secure mobile technology to enjoy the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” says Nghikembua.

She emphasises that once the SIM cards are registered, information is stored by the operators will only be released with a warrant from a judge or magistrate.

PRIVACY AND DATA PROTECTION

The London based Privacy international says that SIM card registration is often introduced in a legal void. According to GSMA, only 59% of countries mandating SIM card registration have a privacy and data protection framework in place. The lobby group argues that mandatory SIM registration places individuals at risk of being tracked or targeted.

These concerns aside, Nghikembua says people are increasingly moving towards a digital economy and using digital platforms that transcend time and space to seek information and to share stories.

“Since the Authority’s existence, Namibia’s ICT growth has actively followed this global trend.”

She says a knowledge-based economy requires widespread availability, affordability, and accessibility to a full range of communication and technology infrastructure services; from fixed-line and mobile telephone services, radio and television broadcasting, to high-speed internet services.

“Therefore, CRAN intends to transcend time and space by addressing the socio-economic barriers to ICT usage; transforming Namibia and its people into an active knowledge-based society that derives the full socio-economic benefits from the sector. We will also ensure growth by ensuring that services are affordable and are of good quality.”

Nghikembua says the establishment of the national cyber security incidence centre, will assist most critical institutions, including financial institutions, in the fight against cyber criminals. That centre will be established after the promulgation of the Cybercrime Bill.

She says mandatory SIM card registration is in line with international best practice, with 157 countries globally having implemented it. Namibia is one of two last countries in Africa that is implementing SIM card registration and we are therefore delighted to finally reach this milestone, Nghikembua says.

SIM card registration enables the enhancement of some digital services already available and allows technological growth through the development of new services, states the CRAN chief.

“After SIM Registration, growth in e-commerce will enable users to manage their businesses and operate within a safe environment.”

Nghikembua further points out that the SIM Card Registration conditions obligates users to register their SIM cards at the service providers they subscribe to.

“Upon registration with the mobile service provider, the consumers are required to produce a Namibian ID, Passport or any other official identity document, proof of residence.

If a consumer resides in an informal settlement and cannot provide an address, the mobile service provider may accept any other address, including that of a school, church or retail store, where the consumer usually receives their post.”

Additionally, consumers are required to provide (as proof of ownership) the starter pack (the card containing the SIM pin and PUK information) which is provided when purchasing the SIM card.

“Those consumers who cannot provide the starter pack (as proof of ownership) are required to provide a police declaration stating proof of ownership. Furthermore, all non-Namibian citizens must submit a police declaration,” says Nghikembua.

The Bank of Namibia 2021 Annual Report reported that the categories of fraud experienced by banking institutions in 2021 included ATM fraud, EFT fraud, credit and debit card fraud, mobile application fraud, currency counterfeits, and theft of cash.

The central bank said mobile application fraud is increasing globally and that the banking sector in Namibia is also targeted by these fraudsters.

By Observer