No more anonymity for cellphone owners
|September 18, 2006|
Failure by a cellphone owner to register his or her personal details with the agent of a cellphone company within 12 months could lead to the termination of the service in terms of a draft bill introduced in Parliament.
And a cellphone operator that provides a service to a customer who has failed to provide personal details after 12 months will be subject to criminal sanctions.
Replying to a question from Malesane Themba (ANC) in the National Council of Provinces, Justice Minister Bridgette Mabandla said the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Amendment Bill had been introduced to change the existing law that regulated the interception of communications in the case of serious crimes or where the security of the state was threatened.
Interception requires the authorisation of a High Court judge.
Mabandla said that for an interception to be effective in the case of cellphone communications, law enforcement agencies needed to know who the owners of the cellphones and SIM cards were, particularly in the case of pre-paid users.
Currently, operators did not have information about the ownership of pre-paid users, who were anonymous.
She said the current Act required sellers of cellphones and SIM cards to obtain and keep the personal particulars of persons who bought or owned cellphones and SIM cards.
The amendments, the minister said, flowed from a request of cellphone operators and essentially allowed for the electronic capturing of the information, rather than the "paper-based" processes that were currently required.
The capturing of the information, Mabandla said, would assist law enforcement agencies in the investigation of crimes to the extent that "they will be able to trace the owners of the phones and SIM cards which are used in the commission or planning of serious crimes".
This was of "specific importance in the case of pre-paid users whose particulars are not captured or available at the moment".
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