A new report published by the Zambian Watchdog has reported that the country’s secret service of the President has created a database of all mobile phone customers in the country as part of the SIM card registration required by telecom operators MTN, Airtel and Zamtel.
According to the report, in December 2011, the former government created the Statutory Instrument on the Registration of Electronic Communication Apparatus, which forced all phone users in the country to register their SIM cards, as part of the entire East African regional push to do so.
Although the registration process is supposed to be administered by the respective telecom providers in the country, the Watchdog has reported that all information of citizens and mobile phone users has been passed along to the government.
“Phone users are required to provide their full name, national registration card number, driving license (for Zambian subscribers), passport or work-permit number (for non-national subscribers), and physical address,” the government SIM registration process says.
“Also needed are an email address if available and details of valid identification documents. Users must also submit the serial number of their SIM cards if a Zambian, but if they are younger than 16 and have no National Registration Card, they are required use the parent’s or guardian’s documents.”
The question many in the country have is what the government is doing with the information garnered from users in the country. There is a growing fear that the secret service is using the database to follow and track citizens in Zambia.
The watchdog website said that many operators are concerned over the use of the information and have questioned the government’s role in the registration process.