Nigeria and Pakistan fining telcos for default on biometric SIM identification
Pakistan has slammed fines on some telecommunication companies operating in the country for failing to ensure phone users identity their SIM cards using biometrics, while Nigeria is proposing the same for network companies that fail to verify users’ biometric identification numbers (NIN). Ghana, for its part, says it plans to begin biometric identification for SIM card subscriptions from October 1 this year.
Facial recognition for SIM subscribers in Pakistan
In order to combat the phenomenon of illegal issuance of SIM cards by some telcos, Pakistan says it is making facial recognition compulsory both for SIM card sellers and purchases going forward, according to 24NewsHD TV.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has been cited as saying this process will happen alongside other biometric identification procedures that are already in place for the purpose.
The report alludes to a PTA document which reveals that about three of the companies had been fined a total of Rs 23.5 million (approximately US$150,000) after being accused of issuing SIM cards illegally.
Further citing the PTA document, 24NewsHD TV mentions that a total of 526,000 such illegally issued SIMs have been blocked, about 360,000 national IDs against which the SIMs were issued have been blacklisted, while at least 29 employees of the different mobile companies suspected to have been involved in the deals have all been suspended from their jobs.
Proposed fine on Nigeria telcos for not verifying SIM subscribers
The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has proposed that all telcos operating in the country pay a fine of N200,000 (about $485) for each subscriber on their work who has not had their biometric national identification number (NIN) verified.
This is according to Punch newspaper which notes that the proposal is contained in a recently published document on a proposed draft policy on registration of telephone subscribers. The said regulation was drafted in 2020 and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“A licensee who fails to verify and validate biometric, NIN and other personal information before activation, is liable to a penalty of N200, 000 for each subscription medium in breach of these requirements,” a portion of the draft document cited by Punch reads.
There is an ongoing process for all mobile telephone users in Nigeria to link their biometric national identification number (NIN) to their SIM cards, with an October 31 deadline.
SIM registration in Ghana from October
Ghana’s Minister of Communication and Digitization, Ursula Owusu- Ekuful, announced recently that SIM card registration for all mobile phone users in the West African country will begin from October 1, through December 31.
Modern Ghana reports that the exercise, which will involve Ghanaian citizens as well as foreigners, is meant to tackle SIM boxing and other criminal activities carried out with the help of unidentified SIM cards.
The move, according to the Minister, is in line with the country’s Subscriber Identity Module Registration Regulations, 2011, LI 2006.
Ghanaians are permitted to register up to 10 SIM cards for all networks and can register using their biometric Ghana Card, while foreigners can register three SIMs and need their passport or another travel document to do so, notes Modern Ghana.
Business entities are expected to complete the process using their business registration papers obtained from the Registrar General’s Department for registration.
The Minister was also quoted as saying the exercise, which will be conducted on the field by agents of the telcos, will not only help establish a robust database for mobile phone subscribers in the country, it will also enable the Ghana Communication Authority have accurate data to inform its industry regulation policy.