The Ugandan government has urged its citizens to ensure that their SIM cards are registered ahead of an upcoming deadline, in order for services to be uninterrupted.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) made the appeal on Monday as they attempt to have all mobile phone cards registered with the government in an effort to crackdown on piracy and enable new technologies to be rolled out.
“The only person who should be afraid of SIM registration, naturally, is the criminally-minded, who knows that their days are numbered after all existing SIM Cards are registered,” said the commission head of communication, Fred Otunnu.
The UCC added in a statement that “as technology becomes a necessity in daily transactions like mobile money, banking and utility bills payment as well as communication, the exposure to ICT based crimes is on the rise.”
They believe that many crimes in the country are a result of a lack of oversight of mobile phones and its technology and the UCC says that the registration process will enable the government and service providers the ability to better track criminal activity in the country.
“SIM card registration ensures that all subscribers’ data is captured to curb crime. Given the fact that Uganda still lacks an effective Identity Management System, or a national identity database of its citizens,” according to Otunnu, adding that “the exercise is necessary to prevent the harassment people go through as regards other people using mobile phones to perpetrate crime.”
Otunnu added, in a statement to Bikyamasr.com, that the anonymous nature of the unregistered SIM cards “that kidnappers exploit.
“It is how extortionists are able to get away with their deed. Text scams flourish in such an environment. Terrorists, insurgents and enemies of the state and society hide behind untraceable numbers. Rumour mongers use it to sow confusion, spread malicious information or start hoaxes,” he explained.
He argued that SIM card registration promotes user accountability, since telecom companies keep details of all users.
“It also promotes national security and social order, in addition to making it easier to enforce existing legislation.
“When you receive a threatening call from an unknown source, the first step is to report to the Police. A case file is opened after taking your statement as a complainant. An investigation with the objective of identifying the caller gets underway.
“Usually the basic procedure is for the investigating officer to apply for a court order, which is presented to the respective telecom company for a printout of the phone call logs (list of all incoming and outgoing calls) on your mobile number,” he added.