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Sim Cards Registration Starts Monday
[June 21, 2010]

Sim Cards Registration Starts Monday

( Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The Communications Commission of Kenya will on Monday kick off the registration of Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards.

This is in pursuant of a government directive last year that all SIM cards have to be registered, to boost national security and help fight phone-related crime.

"On Monday, we are launching a media campaign, but those who will not have registered by the end of the deadline may be suspended from using the services until they do so," said Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo.

Kenya has 20 million mobile phone users and will join countries like South Africa and Tanzania in Africa in the registration of SIM cards.

Early this year, Tanzania set the rules, citing security issues.

CCK, which will launch the process along with the four mobile operators-- Safaricom, Zain, Telkom Kenya and Essar-- says the exercise is meant to help curb rising abuse of mobile phones by carjackers and abductors, posing a great security threat.

Kenya has close to 20 million SIM card owners but only close to 10.5 million subscribers who are registered mobile money transfer users or post-paid subscribers have furnished their operators with their personal identification details.

Under the new rules, users will be required to give their postal and physical addresses, date of birth and alternative telephone numbers, besides their names and identity card numbers.

This means mobile phone subscribers, even those whose personal information such as name and identity number are with their operators, will have to update their profiles.

Telkom-Kenya's fixed land line captures all the details of the users as well. If a subscriber dials 999, the company can identify the caller and where he or she is calling from.

The implementation comes barely one year after the President directed the CCK to set up a data base within six months and start the process of SIM card registration.

But the exercise did not start within the stipulated time as the operators asked for time to consult on how to implement the directive.

Until now, criminals have been taking advantage of the fact that the owners of the mobile phone handsets and SIM cards are not registered before enjoying the service.

Kidnappers have been using mobile phones to demand ransoms from relatives or friends of their hostages.

Operators in the mobile phones industry have argued that the lack of a necessary law calling for the registration was to blame for the anomaly.

"The issue of subscriber registration has been over-simplified by the political class and, in itself, it is not a panacea for addressing rising incidents of crime," said Safaricom's boss Michael Joseph in an earlier interview.

He drew the analogy from the registration of motor vehicles, which are often used in crimes, saying it was always the case that criminals steal vehicles and use them to commit crimes.

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