BE PATRIOTIC, REGISTER YOUR SIM CARD
The revised Communication Act of 2016 provides for mandatory sim card registration. It is in line with this statutory mandate that MACRA has directed that subscribers register their sim cards with their respective network operators.
It should further be noted that the inclusion of this requirement in the Act was done after extensive stakeholder consultation before the it was passed by Parliament. The stakeholders considered international best practices in the region and acknowledged that sim card registration is intended to help law enforcers to identify the mobile phone sim card owners, track criminals who use phones for illegal activities, curb incidents such as loss of phone through theft, hate text messages, fraud, inciting violence and help service providers know their customers better.
Briefly, Section 92 of the Act requires a person who uses a sim card or generic number to have it registered by the communications licensee or with the distributor, agent or dealer of the electronic communications licensee, authorized to provide or sell generic numbers or SIM cards.
For the sake of clarification, a generic number is one that does not require sim card to operate such as Malawi Telecommunications Limited lines and some handsets.
MACRA is therefore just executing its statutory mandate under the Act to mitigate against phone perpetrated crimes where cyber criminals use unregistered sim cards to trick and swindle innocent people of their hard earned money. Intimidators also find it easy to bully their victims, issue death threats because they know they will destroy the sim card and never be traced thereafter.
There is also the issue of sim boxing where one gets an international call that reflects a local number. This practice deprives Malawi of the forex it should have earned had the call reflected its real originating country.
It is the duty of every Malawian to discourage such malpractices from flourishing by registering their sim cards and generic numbers.
It should be understood that this is an international practice and countries close to home started implementing the exercise long time ago but MACRA had been waiting for the legal backing which is now in place. In SADC countries such as South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania, one cannot buy a sim card before registering.
Apart from promoting Information and Communication Technology services (ICTs) in the country, MACRA also has a responsibility to mitigate the challenges that come along on the ICT market.
Malawians are therefore advised not to get confused by alarmist messages. MACRA does not keep data for phone users.
And phone companies have the obligation to maintain confidentiality of details of their customers and this is contained in their licence conditions which are issues by MACRA.
Unlike other countries that have implemented sim card registration, Malawi is implementing this when the Electronic Transactions Act of 2016 clearly provides data protection provisions by requiring that, among other things, personal data should only be processed fairly and legally.
Be part of development. Make Malawi safe from crime. Ensure your own security. Register your sim card and number. It is patriotic to do so.
For: The Director General