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The importance of sim registration and protection of personal data

The importance of sim registration and protection of personal data

By Geneva Hanstein
Legal Advisor: Corporate Advice, Legislative Drafting & Sector Reform.

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) launched the National SIM Registration Awareness Campaign on 07 June 2022. The objective of the campaign is to create awareness and educate consumers on the importance of SIM Registration.

During the campaign, consumers raised concerns about the protection of their personal information because of the requirements for registering their SIM cards.

Namibia is in the final stages of consultation on the Data Protection Bill. The Bill provides for the establishment of a Data Protection Supervisory Authority, that will, amongst others, protect the rights of individuals when their personal information is processed.

The Bill further provides for the lawful processing of personal data and the restrictions in terms of when personal data may be processed, as well as the security measures regarding the integrity and confidentiality of personal data. Pending the finalisation of the Bill, the public has raised concerns about how data will be protected.

The collection and storage of personal data for the purpose of SIM registration is limited to Regulation 3 of the Regulations in terms of Part 6 of Chapter V of the Communications Act (No. 8 of 2009) and seeks to protect information such as the telephone number or other identification of the consumer concerned, the internet protocol address allocated to a customer, the identification of the base station and cell site, and that such data may only be stored for a minimum period of five (5) years.

With the implementation of SIM registration, mobile operators have put in place measures for the protection of consumers’ data. This is done through compliance with international security standards, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001, local statutes, policies and procedures, and regulations on data protection. Operators further conduct audits to ensure adherence to all internal processes and procedures.

Furthermore, mobile operators also ensure that they have backup processes in place, as well as the implementation of internationally accredited firewall systems, which monitor their system for any possible cyber threats, damage, or misuse of the system.

Access to the personal data of customers is limited to authorised personnel and is obtained at the highest level only. Mobile operators further conduct audits on their systems to track users’ access to the systems and promptly address any unprocedural occurrences. For interception purposes, the data is released only after the operator receives a request duly authorised by a judge or magistrate to obtain the stored information from the mobile operators as set out in the Criminal Procedure Act, (No. 51 of 1977) and Namibia Central Intelligence Service Act, (No. 10 of 1997).

CRAN is satisfied operators have sufficient modalities in place to safeguard consumer data. This is achieved through the implementation of international best practice internal policies and procedures to ensure information and systems security. With the ever-evolving technologies, mobile operators shall continue to be innovative and to consistently identify frameworks to protect consumers, as well as ensure compliance with international security standards. CRAN is therefore satisfied that mobile operators have strict data protection measures in place to ensure the protection of personal data, pending the finalisation of the Data Protection Bill.

Therefore, CRAN wishes to inform all ICT consumers that their data is securely stored and managed by mobile operators and consumers are encouraged to register their SIM cards. Mandatory registration shall commence on 1 January 2023 for 12 months. All SIM cards not registered by 31 December 2023 will be deactivated.

Moreover, do not be like Suzy, register your SIM, keep your number and receive all the holiday greetings and new year wishes.

Happy holiday season to all our registered and yet-to-register SIM card holders, from SIMMY the Mascot!


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