Australia considers following African countries in biometric SIM registration to curb crime
The Morrison Government in Australia has introduced new regulations describing biometrics and multifactor authentication (MFA) technologies aimed to tackle fraud related to SIM-swap practices.
According to a post on the Morrison Government’s website, there were at least 510 incidents of reported fraud connected to SIM swap fraud between 1 January and 30 September 2021, for total losses of AU$4.68 million (US$3.47 million).
To prevent cases like this from happening in the future, the Australian government will deploy a variety of solutions utilizing MFA and biometrics, alongside government online verification services or documents in line with the Trusted Digital Identity Framework and the National Identity Proofing Guidelines.
“The Morrison Government is taking action to stop scammers and keep Australians safe,” wrote Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Honorable Paul Fletcher, MP.
“The use of [MFA] process[es] is an effective tool in addressing fraud because scammers might manage to steal one proof of identity such as your PIN, but they still need to obtain and use the other proofs of identity to access your account.”
The new regulations will come into effect on 30 June 2022.
Axon Wireless and LoginID partner on FIDO biometrics for SIMs
The partnership is aimed at reducing SIM swap fraud across MEA (Middle East and Africa), at a time of worrying rates in the region.
“[Our partnership with LoginID] will be a first for MEA”, explains Axon Wireless COO Romeo Pestana, COO. “Axon Wireless will utilize FIDO biometric security as a part of their digital onboarding services. LoginIDs SDKs make it simple to integrate and provide a highly scalable platform to support our current customer base, and growth into the future.”
SIM disconnections increasingly common
According to Capacity, the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has insisted that all SIM cards must be linked to national identity numbers (NINs) after the government blocked 73 million SIM cards in an attempt to curb insecurity, extortion, and kidnapping. The move follows a partial block implemented earlier in the month, and a terrorist attack in which Al Jazeera reports online claims of the attackers calling the families of abduction victims to demand ransom.
The move by Nigeria also comes weeks after South Africa’s telecom regulator advised the government to require personal biometric identifiers to be included in SIM card records.
Along the same lines, the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) recently claimed to have disconnected over two million SIM cards across the country on the basis that they were illegally registered, ITWeb reports.
The report from Al Jazeera asks why the phenomenon of large-scale SIM disconnection is happening in so many places in Africa, noting that 18,000 mobile accounts were switched off in Tanzania last year, and that Ghana has joined the list of countries registering the biometrics of SIM card owners.
There are SIM registration laws in 50 of Africa’s 54 countries, according to the report, but until recently, few have been enforced. The common ownership of multiple SIMs is complicating processes, and lackluster or absent data protection laws resulting in hesitancy to comply on behalf of mobile account subscribers.