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Tanzania’s TCRA enforces mobile SIM card user registration.

The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has taken an unprecedented step in East Africa by requiring Tanzanian mobile subscribers to register their personal details for their mobile phone SIM cards. This action was reported in this week’s edition of the East African Newspaper and clearly may lead to more and more countries in the region following suit. According to the TCRA, the move is being done so as to “curb misuse and keep track of owners.”

As a result, all buyers of new SIM cards will now be required to present their identification as they purchase them. The process of mobile SIM card registration starts in July 2009 and will run for a period of 6 months by which time TCRA will know who the owners of most if not all SIM cards are in Tanzania. If one does not register their SIM card in time then their phone number(s) will be deleted after notification.

There is something worrying about this action from the TCRA since it may give the Tanzanian Government an almost uncanny ability to monitor all Tanzanians, wherever they may be, from their telephone conversations, text messages, internet activities and their locations, at any given time. This could have both good and bad consequences but it is not uncommon in Africa as countries such as Ethiopia have done the same in the past. Whatever the case, it looks like Big Brother will be looking over the shoulders of Tanzania’s 10+ million mobile subscribers by year’s end.

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4 Comments

  1. July 14, 2009 at 2:31 pm — Reply

    East Africa is actually very “free” in this sense. In some European countries you have to register with your ID if you want to browse at an Internet café.

    You may have heard about the FRA law in Sweden – all in the name of terrorist paranoia … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FRA_law

    SIM card registration is probably just the start of this.

  2. July 15, 2009 at 6:46 am — Reply

    Big Brother is all over..but I think it is a good move. This buying an discarding of SIM cards is not good.

  3. […] Is this a knee jerk reaction? Or a well thought out plan to improve security and reduce crime in Kenya? To be honest I have no idea but the directive issued yesterday by President Mwai Kibaki that all mobile users in Kenya have to register their mobile SIM cards, by the end of the year, sounds eerily like what Tanzania did a few weeks ago and I blogged about here. […]

  4. Gadgespec
    November 15, 2009 at 12:52 pm — Reply

    South Africa have done the same thing. This is a great achivement towards fighting crime. I also have seen companies like Sakhumzantsi starting to promote registration of SIM cards when buying their phones.

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