EXPLAINER: What information will be collected during SIM card registration?

Image Courtesy: Namibia Fact Check

Mandatory SIM card registration will come into force on 1 January 2023, so here’s what you need to know to prepare for it.

On 1 January 2023, Namibia will become the latest country to institute mandatory subscriber identification module (SIM) registration in order for telecommunications and internet users to access such services.

Mandatory SIM card registration will be operationalised in accordance with ‘Regulations in terms of Part 6 of Chapter V of the Communications Act’ that were published in Government Gazette No. 7481 on 15 March 2021. 

Additionally, on 28 April 2022, in Government Gazette No. 7797, further conditions that are to be imposed on telecommunications and internet service providers were published. 

Together the regulations and conditions layout what sort of information will be required from SIM card holders when registering their cards, as well as what sort of information or data will be retained of each SIM card holder or internet service user, and for how long. 

When registering a SIM card with a telecommunications service provider, the SIM card holder or purchaser will have to provide the following information, according to the regulations: 

“(5) The following information must be obtained if the customer is a natural person –

(a) the full name of the customer;

(b) the address at which the customer ordinarily resides or if the customer ordinarily resides outside Namibia, the address at which the customer resides while he or she is in Namibia and the address at which the customer works or from which he or she conducts his or her business;

(c) a Namibian identity number or, if the customer in question does not have a Namibian identity number, the number of the document referred to in paragraph (d);

(d) a copy of –

(i) any identity document containing a recent photograph of him or her issued under any law governing the identification of persons in Namibia or any such official document of identity issued by the government of any other country;

(ii) if the customer ordinarily resides outside Namibia or does not have a document referred to in subparagraph (i), a passport issued to the customer;

(iii) if the customer in question does not have a document referred to in subparagraph(i) or (ii), a driving licence or permit containing a recent photograph of him or her, whether issued in or outside Namibia.”

In terms of data retention, the following data will be collected and stored by telecommunications and internet service providers:

“3. (1) Service providers must in respect of all telecommunications of all customers store the following information for a period of at least five years from the date on which that telecommunications have occurred (insofar as the information is applicable to the form of telecommunications services in question) –

(a) the telephone number or other identification of the customer concerned;

(b) the internet protocol address allocated to a customer (irrespective of whether that address is allocated only for the duration of a telecommunications session or whether it is allocated permanently to a specific customer) in addition to any information that might be necessary to link a specific packet to a specific customer;

(c) the called number if the call is generated by the user of the service of the service provider and the calling number if the call is initiated by another party than the user of the service of the service provider;

(d) the source and destination of any other telecommunications in a form that is appropriate for the protocol or application in question: Provided that when a packet based protocol is used, it is not necessary to store the data relating to every packet, as long as a summary containing the total amount of data transferred and the source and destination of the transfer, is stored;

(e) the date, time and duration of the telecommunications;

(f) particulars similar to the information referred to in this subregulation relating to supplementary services or facilities used in association with the telecommunications such as multi-party conferencing, call diversion, abbreviated dialing and voice mail;

(g) intermediate numbers where the customer establishes conference calling or calls to link through services;

(h) identification of base station and cell site, in respect of all cellular phones or similar devices in such detail and at such resolution as is normally required to render an efficient service; and

(i) the nature of the telecommunications whether it is voice, fax, a message service or any other form of data.”