By Macharia Kamau
Use of an unregistered SIM card could soon cost you Sh300,000 or six months in jail.
This is according to a new set of regulations that hold subscribers and agents of mobile operators accountable for use and proliferation of unregistered SIM cards in the market.
The new rules, which the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) will gazette in the coming days, will also see subscribers that give out false personal details during the registration process penalised.
According to the Registration of the Subscribers of Telecommunication Services Rules, an individual who commits an offence under the laws would be liable to a fine of up to Sh300,000 or a jail term of six months. The offences include use of unregistered SIM cards.
A person found to have given the operators false information while registering the SIM cards, would pay a fine of Sh100,000 or be jailed for six months. Agents of mobile operators that sell SIM cards to users will pay Sh500,000 or serve a 12-month jail term if convicted of the offence.
The new regulations replace an earlier set that the Information Communication and Technology ministry gazetted in January last year.
Francis Wangusi, CCK’s Director General, said the four mobile network operators had endorsed the new set of rules, and that the regulator would include them in the Kenya Information and Communications Act.
“The new regulations are ready to be enacted, which we will do very soon. They require subscribers to give certain details and the operator has to verify if they are true,” he said at a briefing yesterday after meeting the chief executives of the four mobile operators.
“They also have provisions on registering minors, handling confidentiality issues and has clauses on the liability of the use of SIM cards,” he said.
Mobile phone companies committing offences under the new rules will pay Sh5 million or see their executives jailed for 12 months. Other than denying services to unregistered numbers, the firms will need to keep a database of their subscribers it to CCK every quarter.
The regulations gazetted last year turned out to have too many loopholes — including failure to hold individual subscribers and agents accountable for unregistered SIM cards that end up in the market.
The SIM card registration regulations were put in place in a bid to fight crime perpetrated using mobile phones, including kidnappings where kidnappers asked for ransom through mobile money service.
Though the laws were in place since the beginning of 2013, calls to implement them gathered momentum in the third quarter of the year after claims were made that the terrorists who attacked the Westgate Mall had used unregistered phones.
CCK said it would review modalities used in conducting its Quality of Service Survey. Through this, it expects to rope in more operators in the ICT industry by measuring the quality of service on other products, including data.