Mandatory capturing of biometric data no longer required for SIM card registration – CRAN
The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) recently gave notice that its mandatory registration of SIM cards commenced on 1 January in line with the provisions of Section 77 of the Communications Act (No. 8 of 2009) and ancillary regulations, as unregistered SIM cards would be deactivated after 31 December this year.
The Authority is now urging its new customers to register their information within three months from the date of sale to avoid having their SIM cards deactivated before the said date.
According to CRAN, they consistently received complaints from the general public and media personnel regarding the practice of some mobile operators of requesting biometric data during the SIM card registration process in the absence of a data protection legislative framework.
“CRAN issued a directive to all concerned operators that the mandatory capturing of biometric data will no longer be required for SIM card registration. Operators will only require the information, as set out in the regulations, which includes the name of the customer, his/her address of ordinary residence, and his/her Namibian ID, passport, or any other official identity document issued by the government or any other country,” said Emilia Nghikembua, CRAN Chief Executive.
However, she added that customers who voluntarily choose to provide their biometrics data are “welcome to do so.”
SIM card registration is a national initiative aimed at facilitating the investigation of crimes committed with the aid of telecommunications devices and enhancing e-commerce activities and online trading, according to the Authority.
“There are also benefits and use cases directly facilitated by the registration of digital identities. Moreover, there has been an increase in usage of digital and/or online services, providing opportunities for Namibians to embrace virtual teaching and learning, mobile banking, and online shopping, amongst others.”
“To meet the objectives of the SIM registration process, all telecommunications operators will allow customers to register their SIM cards via processes that do not require mandatory collection of biometric data. We are also pleased that the operators have made good progress and encourage all consumers to ensure that their SIM cards are registered before the deadline of 31 December 2023,” Nghikembua emphasised.
Consumers aggrieved by any aspects of the registration process may submit complaints to the Authority for adjudication and resolution, she said.