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Stricter SIM card registration to curb criminality | 16 December 2020

Stricter SIM card registration to curb criminality

PS Choppy (Photo: Joena Meme)

As of Friday December 11, SIM cards are no longer available for sale through general retail shops, and can only be accessed in outlets owned and fully-controlled by telecommunications operators in Seychelles offering mobile communication services.

The decision to revise the framework pertaining to SIM card registrations was announced by government in November, after observing over time that the identification and verification process at general retail outlets was ineffective, resulting in an excess number of active cards and mammoth difficulties on the part of law-enforcement agencies and operators in identifying to whom they belong.

As such, a set of regulations has been drafted, laying on operators the burden of responsibility and liability in ensuring SIM registration. It is expected to be tabled before the Cabinet for approval before year-end, stated principal secretary in the Department of Information, Communication and Technology (DICT) Benjamin Choppy yesterday, providing for the sale of SIM cards, outlining the roles and responsibilities of operators in ensuring the registration and activation process is adhered to, as the role of government as regulator, and the punitive measures for non-compliance.

Regulations permit operators to sell SIM cards at their outlets and also through self-service kiosks, on condition certain criteria are met, including recording and verification of the customer’s personally identifiable information, prior to the SIM being activated for use on the network.

As for customers who have failed to register mobile network accounts in the past, PS Choppy advised that they approach their respective operator to do so and complete registration, before the January 27 cut-off point.

“Operators have been given a deadline by which to stop selling cards through third-party retail outlets, and the deadline was last Friday, December 11. In addition, they have been issued a directive to ensure that all active cards and for which they lack identification information, they need to ensure that this information is verified and registered in accordance with the regulations. And they have until January 27, 2021 to do so, although it is up to the discretion of the operator how to carry out such activities,” stated PS Choppy.

Accounts for which information fails to be provided by the stipulated timeframe are to be disconnected and deactivated from operators’ networks.

The move towards stricter prepaid SIM-card registration aims to help mitigate security concerns and to address criminal and anti-social behaviour.

Indeed, mobile phones have been at the centre of scandals in Seychelles before with mobile phone scams being run by prisoners, and it is precisely such activities that authorities seek to address with the stricter regulations.

Presently, there are three licensed telecommunications operators in Seychelles, although only two, namely Cable and Wireless Ltd and Airtel Seychelles offer mobile services.

 

Laura Pillay

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