By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian government has said residents of the country will no longer be able to own more than three phone lines as SIM registrations will now involve the use of National Identity Numbers (NIN).
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, in a directive to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) through his technical assistant on information technology, Mr Femi Adeluyi, said this new measure was based on security considerations.
In the directive, Mr Pantami directed the NCC to revise the policy on SIM card registration and usage, adding that henceforth, the national identity number would become a compulsory requirement for registration of new SIM cards across the country.
The new policy would also put a cap on the number of mobile phone lines or SIM cards that could be obtained and registered by an individual. It was believed that the relative ease of acquiring mobile lines was responsible for Nigerians owning more lines.
Mr Pantami, in the directive issued to the NCC, suggested that an individual should not have more than three mobile phone lines or SIM cards.
The statement reads, “The updated policy is expected to ensure that the National Identity Number becomes a prerequisite for Nigerians registering new SIM cards (while for foreigners, their passports and visas should be used), while already registered SIM cards are to be updated with NIN before December 1, 2020.
“There should be a maximum number of SIM cards that can be tied to a single individual, possibly a maximum of three.”
While fresh registration of SIM cards is to be accompanied with a subscriber’s NIN, all already registered SIM cards are to be updated with the identity number before December 1, 2020.
The directive also stated that foreigners are to use their passport or visa numbers to register their SIM cards.
The NCC was also directed to ensure that only fully accredited agents support the SIM card registration process without pre-registering SIM would be themselves, while the eventual registration should be done by the operators.
The commission was also ordered to ensure that, henceforth, no unregistered SIM is ever allowed on mobile networks.
According to the statement, the updated policy is expected to “ensure that subscribers can easily check the number of SIM cards registered to their name, along with the associated phone numbers and networks.”
The new policy would also make it mandatory for mobile network operators to fortify their networks against cyberattacks as provisions of the new policy would further compel ensure that the service providers obey the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), which guards against any breach of the personal data.
The new policy also directs that SIM cards that have been used to perpetrate crimes are permanently deactivated.
The NCC was directed to provide the minister with progress reports on the implementation of the revised policy.
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