The CommunicationsRegulatory Authority of Namibia is in the process of executing a national awareness campaign about the mandatory SIM registration conditions to be implemented as from 1 January 2023.
“The roadshow with our mascot SIMMY commenced during early July in Katima Mulilo and we have, thus, far visited seven other towns across Namibia. We have utilised social media platforms, television and radio to disseminate the campaign information, which was also translated into local languages to ensure inclusivity,” said CRAN CEO, Emilia Nghikembua. She added their resolve is to ensure that consumers have a better understanding of the sim registration process before telecommunication service providers commence with mandatory registration on 1 January 2023. She noted the public’s willingness to engage throughout the campaign has yielded positive outcomes.
“We wish to commend our operators, who have commenced with voluntary SIM registration. The public acceptance of this process has been overwhelming in that as of 15 September 2022, around 300 000 subscribers have voluntarily registered their sim cards in Namibia. This is proof that Namibian consumers welcome SIM registration as a positive development towards attaining the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” appreciated Nghikembua.
Equally, in a statement released on Monday, CRAN noted the concern on fear of surveillance, the recording of conversations and the nature of the information that service providers will retain after registration.
Nghikembua clarified: “There will be no central database held by CRAN and each operator will store information of their respective subscribers. Operators will not have access to a subscriber’s text messages and telephone conversations or tap into any active communication such as an ongoing audio conversation/voice call. The network designs as authorised by CRAN cannot listen into or record conversations and or messages.
“The registration of sim cards does not introduce interception. Interception has been taking place since 1997 under the Namibia Central Intelligence Service Act, Criminal Procedure Act and the Combating and Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act. There will be no mass surveillance of members of the public and interception will only take place with a court order obtained through the relevant procedures stipulated in already existing legislation.” Sim registration and media freedom Nghikembua noted a recent media report quoted Namibia’s media ombudsman, saying the registration of SIM cards could sabotage the work of investigative journalists is misleading. “The information collected through SIM registration has already been retained by operators as it is used to collate customer bills. The conditions to be implemented from 1 January 2023 only make the process mandatory.
SIM registration and the right to privacy
The CEO said the Namibian
constitution stipulates that the right to privacy of communications may be limited in accordance with law and as is necessary for a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of health or morals, for the prevention of disorder or crime or the protection of the rights or freedoms of others.
Nghikembua clarified that there is a positive correlation between SIM registration and crime prevention: “The position has never been that SIM registration will eliminate crime in totality, however, SIM registration will enhance the crime prevention and investigation powers of law enforcement, as it will reveal the identity of persons that utilise SIM cards to commit crimes. Once again, the process has been implemented in Namibia over the years and one limitation has been that the operators do not know the identity of some subscribers, which curtails investigations. Knowing the identity of SIM card subscribers will thus enhance and improve crime prevention.”