The National Communications Authority (NCA) has sounded a resounding warning against the illegal practice of registering SIM cards under one name and then renting them out to other individuals, especially foreigners visiting Ghana. In a sternly worded statement, the NCA emphasized that this practice is not only illegal but also a violation of the Electronic Communications Amendment Act, which is in place to regulate the telecommunications industry.
The NCA’s statement comes as a response to growing concerns about the leasing or renting of registered SIM cards by certain individuals and entities to foreigners and other nationals in Ghana. This activity, according to the NCA, is in direct contravention of the Electronic Communications (Amendment) Act, ACT 910, 2016, specifically Section 73b (1), which explicitly states that “A person shall not deal in a pre-registered subscriber identity module or user identity module.”
The NCA highlighted several key reasons why this practice is problematic and unlawful:
1. Violation of the SIM Registration Exercise Objective: The primary goal of the SIM Registration Exercise is to associate each SIM card with a verified individual’s identity. This measure helps combat criminal activities and ensures the integrity of the SIM database. Renting SIM cards to others undermines the very purpose of this exercise.
2. Data Protection and Privacy Concerns: By renting out SIM cards, compliance with the Data Protection Act becomes uncertain. This leaves users vulnerable to privacy issues as the new user may gain access to data previously associated with the SIM.
3. Identity Theft Risks: Renting SIM cards creates a fertile ground for identity theft. The SIM card is registered in one person’s name but used by another, raising concerns about identity misappropriation and fraud.
The NCA’s warning was directed at all entities and individuals engaged in this illegal practice, urging them to cease and desist immediately. Additionally, visiting and resident foreigners, citizens, and prospective users were cautioned against patronizing such services, as the consequences of engaging in these activities are severe.
According to Section 73b (2) of the Electronic Communications (Amendment) Act, 2016, “Any person who knowingly deals in a pre-registered subscriber identity module or user identity module commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than three thousand penalty units (GHS36,000) or to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years or both.”
The NCA reiterated the approved procedure for acquiring a SIM card in Ghana, which involves using a Ghana Card (for both citizens and non-citizens) or a passport (for visiting foreigners). This procedure ensures that each SIM card is associated with a legitimate and verified user, upholding the integrity and security of the telecommunications network.
For further information on the SIM registration process and related inquiries, the NCA encouraged individuals to visit their website (www.nca.org.gh) or contact their toll-free hotline at 0800110622 or the hotline at 0307011419.
In conclusion, the NCA’s warning serves as a clear message that it takes the security and integrity of the telecommunications network seriously. Engaging in the illegal practice of renting SIM cards not only carries legal consequences but also undermines the efforts to maintain a secure and reliable communication infrastructure in Ghana.