Tanzania’s TCRA enforces mobile SIM card user registration.
The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has taken an unprecedented step in East Africa by requiring Tanzanian mobile subscribers to register their personal details for their mobile phone SIM cards. This action was reported in this week’s edition of the East African Newspaper and clearly may lead to more and more countries in the region following suit. According to the TCRA, the move is being done so as to “curb misuse and keep track of owners.”
As a result, all buyers of new SIM cards will now be required to present their identification as they purchase them. The process of mobile SIM card registration starts in July 2009 and will run for a period of 6 months by which time TCRA will know who the owners of most if not all SIM cards are in Tanzania. If one does not register their SIM card in time then their phone number(s) will be deleted after notification.
There is something worrying about this action from the TCRA since it may give the Tanzanian Government an almost uncanny ability to monitor all Tanzanians, wherever they may be, from their telephone conversations, text messages, internet activities and their locations, at any given time. This could have both good and bad consequences but it is not uncommon in Africa as countries such as Ethiopia have done the same in the past. Whatever the case, it looks like Big Brother will be looking over the shoulders of Tanzania’s 10+ million mobile subscribers by year’s end.