Accept passport, drivers license others for SIM card re-registration – Minority to Govt

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The Minority in parliament has described as tunnel-visioned government’s six-month ultimatum for the re-registration of sim cards by Ghanaians.

The caucus has demanded the immediate withdrawal of the threat of deactivation of SIM cards after re-registration exercise describing the move as illegal.

It has also asked for the inclusion of other ID cards for the registratIon.

In a statement Tuesday, deputy ranking member for the communications committee Sam George argued the way and manner the exercise is being rolled out could be counterproductive.

The Ningo-Prampram MP disclosed the minority caucus is in consultation with lawyers for legal action against the government over the exercise.

The minority has recommended “the immediate withdrawal of the threat of deactivation of valid SIM cards by March 2022, the scrapping of the physical visit to an agent of a service provider for authentication of the registration document.”

Other recommendations are “an integrated referencing of databases of the Passport Office, DVLA, NHIA and SSNIT with the NIA database whose cards were used largely as primary
registration documents for previous SIM registrations.”

“The use of Passports, Driver’s License and Voter’s ID cards to allow for the
inclusion of more Ghanaians in the registration process.”

Below is a statement by the Minority on SIM card registration

We as the Minority in Parliament have followed the policy directive issued by the
Honourable Minister for Communications and Digitalization on the registration of all SIM
cards in the Country which started on the 1st of October 2021 and would last for six
months.

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This registration process is to be done in two phases including the linking of a
Ghana Card to a SIM card and the physical visit to an agent of a service provider by a SIM
cardholder for an integration process to be completed.

In as much as we support any attempts to sanitize the digital ecosystem, we strongly
oppose any abuse of policy to unnecessarily inconvenience the citizens of Ghana. We find
it most inappropriate that the policy directive issues a fiat of deactivating SIM cards that
are not linked to the Ghana Card within the next six months. This we believe is a
retrospective application of legislation and a tunnel-visioned approach to sanitizing the
industry.

The current legislation that backs SIM registration in Ghana is the LI 2006 passed by
Parliament in 2011. This legislation saw the registration that happened in 2012. This
legislative instrument does not mandate the linkage of the Ghana Card to activate SIM
cards.

The National Identification Authority Act, 2006 (Act 707) and LI 2111 which
introduces the use of the Ghana Card as the principal document for registration of SIM
cards and Bank Accounts amongst others cannot be applied retrospectively to SIM cards
that were registered legally and legitimately under the existing Ll 2006. Section 7 of LI
2111 makes the use of the Ghana Card mandatory but does NOT make it the sole card for
the purposes of registration.

It is imperative that we state that any attempt to stretch the mandate of El 63 to justify
this latest directive on SIM cards as grossly misplaced. Section 100 of the Electronic
Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775) which forms the basis for El 63 imposes a liability
on the Service Providers to furnish the President with details of registered devices.

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This duty does not extend to the customers of the Service Providers. It is in our considered
opinion that this attempt to compel and threaten Ghanaians with deactivating their SIM
cards come March 2022 is an unfortunate affront to the rights of Ghanaians.
To break this down, this new directive is akin to the Bank of Ghana issuing a fiat that bank
accounts would be closed if account holders do not link their accounts to the Ghana Card
After all, the NIA act also mandates that Bank Accounts need to be backed by Ghana Cards.

Another inconceivable scenario would be the Passports Office issuing a statement that all
passports must be revalidated because a few holders may have falsified the birth
certificates or other primary documents used to acquire their passports. This is how
ludicrous it sounds that to deal with some instances of fraudulently acquired SIM cards
by unscrupulous persons would demand that all SIM cardholders must go back to
register their SIM cards. This is simply not a pragmatic approach.

The claim that linking a SIM card to the Ghana Card would prevent fraud is flawed. The
Ghana Card database is full of largely unverified GhanaPost GPS addresses which were
hastily generated at NIA registration centres and not linked to the physical addresses of
the registrants. It is important to note that residential mobility is high among the majority
of Ghanaians and as such addresses in the NIA database cannot be the basis for an
anticipated fight against SIM based digital crime.

Our recommendations on the SIM registration exercise are;

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1. The immediate withdrawal of the threat of deactivation of valid SIM cards by
March 2022

2. The scrapping of the physical visit to an agent of a service provider for
authentication of the registration document

3. An integrated referencing of databases of the Passport Office, DVLA, NHIA and
SNIT with the NIA database whose cards were used largely as primary registration documents for previous SIM registrations.

4. The use of Passports, Driver’s License and Voter’s ID cards to allow for the inclusion of more Ghanaians in the registration process.

We urge the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization to take these steps in good faith. We believe this would actually accelerate our digital ecosystem in this age of COVID-19.

We have also spoken to our lawyers to advise us on all legal options open to us on this
matter.

Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh

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