31 December 2012

Kenya: CCK to Switch Off 1.5 Million Fake Mobile Users

Nairobi — At least 80 percent of mobile phone users had registered their sim cards ahead of the switch-off by the Communications Commission of Kenya expected to take place at mid night on Monday.

CCK Consumer and Public Affairs Director Mutua Muthusi stated that there will be no extension of time for unregistered phone mobile users and their sim cards will be off-service after the lapse of the deadline.

He said suspended sim cards that will not have been registered by the end of 90 days will be de-activated permanently.

"Majority of consumers have heeded our appeal and registered their sim cards. As at Friday, that is December 28, 80.4 percent of all active mobile lines in the country had been registered. I wish to call on those who have not registered their mobile lines to do so immediately as the Commission has no intention whatsoever of extending the deadline after mid-night today," he said.

He explained that the process will make it easier for law enforcement agencies to track down criminal activities and to minimize hate speech.

"With the deactivation of counterfeit handsets and registration of all sim cards, law enforcement agencies shall now find it easier to track down those using mobile phones for criminal activities. This will be particularly important in securing our country as the nation prepares for the general elections in March next year," he said.

"The days of purchasing sim cards and discarding them at will after misuse are now over."

He indicated that it will also reduce incidents of vendors selling of sim cards without first registering them.

"Over time and due to cut throat competition in the market as well as lack of enabling legal framework, sim card vendors lapsed to their old ways of selling sim cards without first registering them," he said.

"As a result, the proportion of registered sim cards fell below 70 percent within a year putting the country at a greater risk in view of the increasing levels of terrorism attacks, hate speech and other forms of crime."

This is the commission's second attempt to block unregistered SIM cards after a 2010 attempt was derailed by a lack of laws to support the process.

CCK had authorised mobile operators to switch off nearly 1.5 million fake phones.

Contrary to expectations, unregistered SIM cards were not switched off in the October 1 exercise, with the CCK arguing that there was no law that compelled operators to switch off unregistered customers.

The CCK pointed out an amendment to the Kenya Information and Communications Act of 1998 has now given the process a legal backing.

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