[daily trust] The Federal Government has ordered operators not to activate new phone lines until their users' private details have been collected under new measures to gather personal information of all telecoms subscribers in Nigeria.
The telecoms regulator issued the order that affecting all new phone lines just as it released official figures show that the telecoms market has exceeded 78,8 active lines at April, this year.
According to a statement issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), all new subscribers must first register their personal details and biometric information, including fingerprints and facial photographs, before their phone lines can be activated to make calls or send messages. The directive issued by the regulator was silent on whether unregistered users will be allowed to receive calls before they comply with the regulatory order. NCC also directed all operators and their agents to comply with the directive which took effect from May 1, this year as part of measures to implement the Commission's programme on registration of SIM-based phone subscribers nationwide.
The Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) popularly called 'SIM card' is a small, stamp-size "smart card" used in a GSM and some CDMA phones. The SIM card contains a microchip that stores data that identifies the user to the carrier. The SIM can also store phone book information - phone numbers and associated names. The regulatory directive on SIM registration, NCC says, will also affect existing phone users and the regulator says that a future date will be set for them to comply with the directive to supply their personal and biometric information to their phone network operator.
NCC said that in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, its enabling laws, operators and the general public are being notified that effective from May 1, this year, "all subscribers acquiring new SIM Cards are required to be duly registered before the SIM Cards could be activated."
Under the guideline, "all SIM-based telephone subscribers are required to register their personal data as well as biometrics (finger prints and facial photographs) before they can be allowed to make calls and/or send messages."
The telecoms regulator says it would announce the commencement date for existing SIM-based phone subscribers, Technology Times reports.
Meanwhile, NCC has announced that active connections in the Nigerian telecoms market peaked at over 78.8million lines at April, this year with the GSM mobile sector accounting for the traditional market dominance with over 69.6million lines. The mobile CDMA sector exceeded 7.7million lines while the fixed wired/wireless sector accounted for 1.4million lines within the period.
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