15 January 2014

Kenya: Stiff Fines Ahead for Mobile Phone Cheats

MOBILE phone users, agents and their service providers face stiff cash penalties and imprisonment if they contravene the new regulations to be published by the Communications Commission of Kenya this week.

Subscribers could pay up to Sh100,000, agents Sh500,000 and the operators Sh5 million, according to the Kenya Information and Communications (registration of subscribers of telecommunications services) Regulations, 2014.

The offenders could also be jailed for up to six months for subscribers and 12 months for agents. Those found guilty but no specific penalty is provided under the regulations will be liable to a maximum fine of Sh300,000 or a six-month jail or both.

CCK director general Francis Wangusi said yesterday he will sign the regulations this week but was non-committal on when they will be officially published into law " as it will also depend on the government printer".

"The penalties will depend on the gravity of the case as determined by the courts," Wangusi said. "The new regulations have enhanced and clarified the penalties." Upon gazettement, unregistered subscribers will be allowed 30 days to comply or have their lines deactivated by their network operators.

They and new subscribers are required to present an original and a copy of their national identification card or passport, military or alien card to an agent or an operator for registration.

Registration of minors by a lawful guardian will require a copy of birth certificate while corporate entities require a certificate of incorporation and an ID of at least one director.

The operator or agent will use the documents to capture subscribers' names, date of birth, gender, physical address among other particulars.

The two will be required to verify and maintain a physical and electronic database of the registered subscribers.

The records shall remain confidential unless needed for statutory functions by the CCK(soon to change to Communications Authority), criminal investigations by the police or civil proceedings in a court of law.

Records of the deactivated lines will be retained for two years, according to the regulations.

The four operators-Safaricom, Airtel, Telkom Kenya and yuMobile- are required, within 30 days after implementation of the regulations, to notify the CCK of the steps and processes taken to ensure security and confidentiality of the subscribers records.

The CCK has right to access their systems, premises, facilities and files to inspect for compliance with the new regulations.

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