By Omobayo Azeez
Minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami, has called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to review policy guiding registration and usage of subscriber’s identification module (SIM) cards by Nigerians.
Pantami, in a statement by Femi Adeluyi, technical assistant, information technology, said Wednesday that the review became necessary to sanitise SIM card usage among subscribers particularly for security reasons.
According to the statement, the directive is in line with the powers of the minister as stated in Section 25(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.
The section states that the minister shall, in writing, from time to time notify the commission or and express his views on the general policy direction of the federal government in respect of the communications sector.
Pantami said the revision of the policy is based on the feedback received from the security agencies following the successful revalidation of improperly registered SIM cards in September 2019 and the blocking of subscribers who failed to revalidate their SIMs.
The minister further said that the updated policy is expected to mandate subscribers to have SIM cards registered with the details of their National Identity Number (NIN), and possibly limit maximum telephone lines owned by an individual customer to three, among others.
The statement reads, “The updated Policy is expected to include ensure that the National Identity Number (NIN) becomes a prerequisite for Nigerians registering new SIM cards (while for foreigners, their passports and visas should be used), while already registered cards are to be updated with National Identity Number (NIN) before 1st December, 2020;
“The policy should also ensure that only fully accredited agents support the SIM card registration process without pre-registering SIM cards themselves, while the eventual registration should be done by the operators”
“There should be a maximum number of SIM cards that can be tied to a single individual, possibly a maximum of 3; ensure that no unregistered SIMs are ever allowed on mobile networks; ensure that subscribers can easily check the number of SIM cards registered to their name, along with the associated phone numbers and networks.
“Ensure that mobile network operators fortify their networks against cyberattacks and ensure that they adhere to the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR); and ensure that SIM cards that have been used to perpetrate crimes are permanently deactivated.”
Following this directive, Pantami expect the NCC to give progress reports on the implementation of the revised policy.