Uganda Communications Commission can only act on unregistered Sim cards after receiving complaints, the executive director Godfrey Mutaabazi has said.
He disclosed this on Wednesday while responding to accusations by legislators on the Information and Communication Technology Committee on the failure by the commission to block unregistered Sim cards.
They claimed that the failure by UCC to act on unregistered sim cards was facilitating criminal activities as those involved cannot be tracked. Mutaabazi appeared before the committee to respond to issues raised by the legislators in reaction to the policy statement of the Information and Communication Technology Ministry for the 2014/2015 financial year. He explained that the commission launched the sim card registration on the directives from the security ministry, which he said was entirely responsible for sim card registration.
According to Mutabaazi, they were only requested to oversee the implementation of the sim card registration process on behalf of government. The Sim Card Registration Exercise was launched on 28th February 2012 by the Security Ministry under the “Know Your Customer” initiative. It was extended for another 90 days following consultations between the commission and stakeholders for data validation. Sim Card registration is provided for under the Regulations of Interceptions of Communications Act (RICA 2010).
Mutabazi explained that UCC together with telecommunications operators carried out the public awareness campaigns on sim card registration pursuant to S.9 of the regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2010. He however, said UCC can act on unregistered sim cards once a complaint is lodged with the commission. Mutabazi noted that the on-going National Citizenship Registration is meant to tally with sim card registration to help UCC get authentic address of sim card users.
However, MP Paula Turyahikayo, a member of the ICT committee wouldn’t have any of this. She said the committee was interested in action and not stories from the commission. She directed the commission to get in touch with the Security Ministry and take action on all unregistered sim cards still in use.
According to UCC by the close of the sim card registration on 31st August 2013 at least 92 percent of the sim card holders had registered and 98 percent had registered by the validation period on January 2014.