The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has moved to pile pressure and personal liability on SIM vendors in a bid to stem the resurgence of criminal rackets involving swapping of SIM cards to steal cash from mobile subscribers.
The sector regulator says it will go after vendors who breach anti-privacy laws, raising the spectre of SIM card retailers and salespeople that risk going to jail.
The law requires telecommunications firms such as Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya 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.
However, CA director general Francis Wangusi reckons that current regulations are too lenient leading to some rogue vendors looking the other way thus allowing fraudsters to flourish.
“The agents of the mobile operators don’t seem to have shown the level of credibility with the kind of arrangement we have with mobile operators…They are the ones who are perpetuating unregistered SIM cards. We are thinking of going to licence them. We shall authorise them with strict conditions in order for them to be accountable to us and not the operators,” he said on Thursday.
“We want to see that the registration guidelines are adhered to strictly. We want to improve on penalties.”
Fraudsters use different methods, including stolen or forged national identity cards, to register different SIM cards accounts and use the same to steal funds from unsuspecting subscribers’ accounts.