Government yesterday said a plan to force people to register their identity when buying cell phone SIM cards is, among others, aimed at finding criminals who utilise technology to conduct crime.
Government in March this year approved new regulations that will require all mobile phone subscribers to register their SIM cards before being able to access network services.
The regulations are yet to be operationalised on the date to be determined by the minister.
While responding to what he termed as misleading media reports, information ministry executive director Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana said the request of stored SIM cards information will be done with due regard to the provision of the regulations, which involves the issuance of an order by a judge or magistrate to authorise the obtaining of that information from service providers.
Ua-Ndjarakana said this will be done to safeguard the privacy of consumers.
Also, he said the Communications Act deals with the disclosure of information and places a duty on telecommunications service providers to safeguard the integrity of such information.
He said the benefits of SIM card registration are that it eradicates anonymity of communications, which aids in legal surveillance and interception.
“It also assists in finding criminals who utilise telecommunications to commit crime,” Ua-Ndjarakana said in a statement.
He said once the Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) finalises the consultation process and the implementation modalities with operators, the minister shall issue a commencement date for the registration of SIM cards in the country.
Setting the record straight, Ua-Ndjarakana said the Communication Act does not introduce interception of communication in the country.
“Interception is already authorised primarily by the National Central Intelligence Service Act (NCIS) and the Prevention and Combating of Terrorist and Proliferation Activities Act,” he explained.
Also, he said the Criminal Procedure Act has provisions pertaining to the procedure.
He further said that the Communication Act simply introduces a framework that enables the effective implementation of the powers already set out in the NCIS Act and the Prevention and Combating of Terrorist and Proliferation Activities.
“The current status in that interception is already taking place in line with the provisions of the stated laws. 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,” said the executive director, adding that the date will be communicated to the general public in due course.