South Africa begins registration of SIM cards.

cellphoneSouth Africans using the more than 41 million registered cellphones in South Africa have to either submit their identification details and addresses to mobile operators or have their services disconnected. According to the Communications-Related Amendment Act, the requirement for identity registration by SIM card holders begins today. Mobile operators are expected t

The implementation of the new law was announced on 30 June 2009 by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe as part of the governments plan to crack down on criminals who use cellphones to commit crimes. The previous version of the law allowed for interception by police of telephone calls by criminals, but police have hit a snag because some SIM cards could not be linked to users. Criminals buy pay-as-you-go SIM cards and are not obliged to disclose their identities. This amendment seeks to rectify that, Radebe said.

With consent from a judge, the law allows police to intercept communications when there are reasonable grounds to believe that a serious criminal offence has been committed or will be. Radebe said mobile cellular service providers Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Neotel would be prohibited from activating a new SIM card unless they have captured a customers full names, identity number and residential address. Representatives from Vodacom, MTN and Cell-C, who met Radebe prior to the announcement in Cape Town yesterday, said the mobile operators would launch aggressive marketing strategies to inform customers of the new requirements.

Vodacom spokesman Dot Field said the company would launch a media campaign to ensure that its 27 million subscribers, the majority of whom are prepaid, submit their identification and have the details verified. We will do an aggressive media campaign, using SMS and voicemail. The full mechanism is in place to educate the market, she said. Field said the mobile operators industry would not pass on the registration costs to consumers. MTNs chief corporate services officer, Zolisa Masiza, said the company has already worked out the cost of the marketing campaign for its 17 million subscribers. Cell Cs head of regulatory compliance, Leona Mentz, said the company supports the law and would also embark on a media campaign. Its difficult to comply a lot of people have more than one SIM card, she said.

Post published in: Zimbabwe News

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