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Unregistered SIM card users face switch-off by April 15

The Communications Authority (CA) of Kenya has warned that mobile phone subscribers who fail to register their details with their respective telecommunication service providers by April 15 will face disconnection.

CA Director General (DG) Ezra Chiloba says the move is to enforce the SIM card registration regulations of 2015 and is aimed at combating cybercrime and fraud in the digital space.

Chiloba said the Communication Authority will not extend the ongoing SIM card registration deadline and urged unregistered mobile subscribers to do so in the remaining days.

He asked all mobile network operators to speed up the data cleanup exercise and said that no more time will be added upon the expiry of the grace period noting that unregistered SIM cards have security implications.

“There would be no extension so those still dragging their feet should wake up to the reality and register with their respective telecom service providers or face permanent deactivation,” he said.

The CA DG said there would be no unregistered SIM cards on any of the telcom service providers that would be in operation beyond April 15.

“We want before the end of April all the networks to be cleaned up by deactivating all unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards from the networks,” said Chiloba.

He said Kenya will join other countries in the world that have developed similar policies and collected biometric data through a registration process by telecom companies in a bid to boost cyber security.

Chiloba spoke to the media at Pride Inn Paradise Beach Resort and Spa in Mombasa while attending this year’s annual Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) Kenya chapter conference.

ISACA is an international nonprofit professional association focused on information technology governance and engages in the development, adoption and use of globally accepted information systems.

The three days ISACA Kenya chapter annual conference has kicked off in Mombasa organized with the theme ‘Renew and re-imagine, tech, innovation and resilience’.

Chiloba said the mandatory registration comes in the wake of growing incidents of fraud involving mobile phones in the country.

He asked parents not to register their credentials in the SIM cards their children who are above the age of 18 operate.

This will be an upgrade of the current model in which parents use their credentials to register SIM cards their children operate, he added.

He said previously data systems in the country remained non-digitised due to poor information and communication infrastructure which is no longer the case at the moment when the digital divide is narrowing.

“It means that criminals and even terrorists can use unregistered SIM cards for anonymity and avoiding detection by the authorities,” he said adding that the registration will help in facilitating crime tracking and prevention by the security agencies.

On his part Antony Muiyuro President of ISACA Kenya Chapter said a forum that brings together ICT gurus will look into how to enhance the country’s cyber security space and foster information sharing among corporate organizations.

Muiyuro noted that while there are tremendous social-economic and other benefits to be derived from cyberspace there are also risks such as computer-related fraud and forgery.

He said cybercrime and computer related crimes were on the rise, noting that such practices continue to plague financial institutions and corporate entities in the face of rapid technological changes.

The ISACA Kenya chapter president underscored the need to identify new threats, trends and tracking cyber fraudsters online with a view to bringing them to justice.

He said to help build a strong defense against cyber threats and secure the country’s cyber space, public and private sector ICT players need to work together.

Muiyuro said technology is the heart of the post-Covid-19 era as it keeps people connected to each other and to opportunities despite the social distance hurdle imposed by the pandemic in the past two years.

He said challenges created by the technology sector are far less than opportunities enabled by technology and issues solved by it in sectors such finance, agriculture, healthcare and commerce at the height of the pandemic which is now on the back foot.

He said ISACA will continue to play an important role in securing cyberspace by working closely with key stakeholders to fortify efforts to defeat cyber insecurity.

By Mohamed Hassan

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