Mobile operators have until Friday to remove unregistered subscribers and those listed using fraudulent documents from their networks or face fines of up to 0.2 per cent of their annual sales.
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) said a forensic audit on the mobile networks of Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya revealed that information on subscribers was based on inaccurate and incomplete data as well unregistered SIM cards, aiding criminal activities.
Anomalies unravelled include SIM cards with multiple registrations under different identity details, serial number length variance in registrations using passports and alien IDs as well as lack of control of the operators on their agents.
“We have asked the mobile operators to comply by cleaning up their data bases through ensuring that they switch off any fraudulently registered SIM cards. We have given them up to the end of this week to comply,” said CA director general Francis Wangusi.
The Kenya Information and Communications (Registration of SIM-cards) Regulations 2015 allow a telecommunications operator or the CA to deactivate a subscriber’s SIM-card on establishment that false information was provided in registering it.
Under the SIM-card registration regulations, the subscribers must appear in person to provide correct information. Incorrect information is an offense that attracts a fine of Sh100,000, or six months imprisonment.
The sector regulator has also directed telecommunications firms including Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya to submit details of agents and sub-agents that deal in sales and subscriber registration on their behalf.
The details required include the company registration details, number of outlets and locations in which they operate, duration in which such agents have been in operation, contacts details and ownership details.
This follows revelations that operator-agent agreements are purely commercial and do not place any obligations on the agents with respect to adherence to the SIM card regulations. “This is a dangerous trend that jeopardises the security of citizens in the country and must therefore stop,” said Dr Wangusi at a press briefing yesterday.
The law requires telecommunications firms or their appointed agents to register SIM card owners after noting down their full name, identity card number, date of birth, gender, physical and postal address.
The CA has further directed mobile operators to ensure agents verify identification documents with the Integrated Population Registration System (IPRS) when subscribers present them at the time of registration.
The CA commissioned the audit in the wake of rampant hawking of SIM cards, which is illegal. The practice has seen the resurgence of a scam involving swapping of SIM cards by fraudsters to swindle money from unsuspecting mobile subscribers. In the case of SIM card swap, a fraudster usually makes a call pretending to be an employee of a mobile network.