6 March 2012

Uganda: SIM Card Data Will Be Safe - Govt

Photo: Google
Checking text messages.

MOBILE phone subscribers do not have to worry about the safety of the information they provide during the ongoing SIM card registration because there are measures to protect their data, the Government has said.

State minister for security Muruli Mukasa said the collected information and even tapping of phone calls can only be carried out with the permission of the courts of law.

"Nobody can tamper with the data that has been provided and walk away free. There are heavy penalties," Mukasa said.

This was during the official launch of the SIM card registration exercise at the Kampala Sheraton yesterday.

He said even when permission is given by a court, it is only for three months and mostly for the prevention of crime.

There are currently 16 million mobile phone subscribers who have to be registered in the exercise that will run up to March 1, 2013.

Although SIM card registration is considered vital, especially in averting crime and promoting national security, there have been concerns that the data collected may be used for wrong purposes.

In addition, there are concerns that some people may submit false data.

This is worsened by the fact that the country has no national identity cards coupled with a strong culture of forgeries and falsification of identities.

MTN Customers register their SIM cards during the ongoing at Lugogo Shoprite. Pix by Mark Owor

The Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2010 provides for the protection of victims of criminals who abuse the privilege of telecommunications.

MTN chief Themba Khumalo said: "It is in our interest to ensure that Ugandans in the most remote areas are also registered," said Khumalo.

Godfrey Mutabazi, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) chief, said cyber crime was on the rise and, therefore, encouraged phone users to embrace the exercise.

Steps to register SIM cards

ï-The subscriber provides personal information such as passports, corporate/company or workplace identity cards, student ID cards from recognised institutions, driver's licence and e-tax cards.

ï-For employee identity cards, the human resource managers must write a letter confirming your employment status.

Foreign nationals must provide a passport to be registered.

ï-The subscriber then signs on the filled-in forms that also includes one's date of birth, the mobile phone number, marital status and any other alternative number that the particular subscriber uses.

The mobile operator captures the picture of the subscriber in case they do not have a photograph.

From March 1, 2013, no SIM card will be issued by the operators without registering its user.

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