Namibia scraps requirement to collect biometric data during SIM registration

Namibia scraps requirement to collect biometric data during SIM registration

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has informed operators that they will not be required to collect biometric data from users wishing to register SIM cards.

CRAN Chief Executive Emilia Nghikembua noted in a statement that the requirement had been dropped since Namibia does not currently have sufficient data protection legislative framework to address the concerns of members of the public as well as the media regarding the collection and storage of biometric data. Nghikembua specified that customers may share biometric information on a voluntary basis.

Explaining the updated terms, Nghikembua said: “Operators will only require the information as set out in the regulations, which includes the name of the customer, his/her address of ordinary residence, and his/her Namibian ID, passport, or any other official identity document issued by the government or any other country”.

Namibia launched its year-long process for mandatory SIM registration in January, with operators required to register all existing customers by 31st December 2023. New subscribers must register within three months of signing up. The regulator claims that the process open up the e-commerce space in the market, as well as making it easier to investigate crime.

Interestingly, CommsUpdate reports that the country’s market leader MTC (Mobile Telecommunications) will not follow the regulator’s directive and instead continue to collect biometric data as standard.

MTC spokesperson Tim Ekandjo said: “”While we are in total unison with CRAN’s considerations, MTC’s position is that the rationale behind biometric as part of its “Verifi” process is an extended and enhanced tool for customer authenticity, considering increased cyber and online fraud often involving stolen identities.”

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