Should Govt share the National ID database with Telecom companies?

register SIMs

Following the 8 directives from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Telecommunications Operators were given the opportunity to discuss the challenges of SIM Card registration with key stakeholders like the Ministry of Internal Affairs, National Identity Registration Authority (NIRA), Uganda Police Force, Office of Prime Minister (Commissioner for Refugees) and/or United Nations High Commission for Refugees. A meeting with these stakeholders took place on Friday 31st March 2017 at UCC House Bugolobi at 9am.

As part of the resolutions during the meeting, Government allowed Telecom companies to have access to the confidential National ID database in a bid to enforce new directive on SIM card registration. In the meeting, UCC emphasized its ban on street vending of SIM cards despite pleas from Telecoms. This ban, according to Mr Mutabazi, will jointly be enforced by police, UCC and the telecom companies.

According to the Daily Monitor, this decision has, not gone down well with security operatives. Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, who represented security organs at an industry meeting reportedly warned that giving people’s private information to private companies may compromise national security with fear that the data might end up in the wrong hands.

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The telecom companies first made the request to access the national ID database in order to carry out fresh verification of subscribers and SIM card registration and comply with UCC directives a day before the registration deadline.

The Daily Monitor further reports that the Telecoms put up a “spirited fight” in explaining their case, the commission agreed that they are given access but with restrictions. The meeting was deferred to April 4 in order to iron out the details.

NIRA is not ready to share ID information

In a statement issued after the Friday meeting, Mr Mutabazi said that “Database reconciliation/verification is to be done by operators in liaison with NIRA. Discussions on the timeframes in which this will be done will be discussed in the follow-up meeting,”

NIRA spokesperson, Mr Gilbert Kadilo however, said: “We haven’t reached the stage of having third party interfaces but that is something that is going to happen. It is not only the telecoms but banks, NSSF and other organisations [interested in access to the national database].”