MICT's say on SIM card registration

Otis Daniels_Finck
Following government’s policy directive that all SIM cards in Namibia must be registered, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) said that after consultations with the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), the Director-General of the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) and all providers, regulations setting out the framework for SIM card registration, were published in the Government Gazette of 15 March 2021. However, the regulations are yet to be operationalised.

According to MICT executive director, Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana, these regulations make provision for the manner in which information should be stored and shared with relevant authorities in case of criminal investigations. “It enable operators to compel existing and potential customers to register with them - a practice that is currently not regulated and that makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies in their criminal investigations. Subsequently CRAN draftet additional conditions on SIM card registration and held a stakeholder consultative meeting on 19 October to receive inputs,” he said.

Ua-Ndjarakana said that the request of stored SIM card information will be done with due regard to the provisions of these regulations, which involve the issuance of an order by a judge or magistrate to authorise the obtaining of information from a service provider. “This is done to safeguard customer’s privacy.”

He said that SIM card registration eradicates anonymity of communication, which aids in legal surveillance and interception. “It also assists in finding criminals who use telecommunications to commit offences.”

Ua-Ndjarakana said that once CRAN finalises the consultation process and the implementation modalities with operators, the minister will issue a commencement date for the registration of SIM cards in Namibia. “Interception is already authorised primarily by the NCIS Act, and the prevention of Combating of Terrorist and Proliferation Activities Act, which has provisions pertaining to the procedures. The Act simply introduces a framework that enables the effective implementation of the powers already set out in the NCIS Act.”

He concluded by saying that the creation of interception centres under the Communications Act has not been finalised as there are still implementation modalities and directives that need to be finalised. “Once concluded, Part 6 of the Act will be commenced to expand the framework for interception in Namibia.”