Govt Targets Parents With Proposed SIM Card Guidelines

  • The Sim Cards fraud is a widely used tactic by Con gangs in Nairobi.
    The sim cards fraud is a widely used tactic by con gangs in Nairobi.
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  • The Communications Authority (CA) has taken a bold step in ensuring that children are protected from digital abuse.

    In a set of new guidelines titled Industry Guidelines For Child Online Protection and Safety In Kenya, the authority announced that it was seeking to set up a database to cater for children using SIM cards in the country.

    As it stands today, most children below the age of 18 years who have mobile phones have their SIM cards registered by their parents or guardians.

    In the newly proposed guidelines, the parents and guardians will be expected to disclose the identity of the minors using the handsets.

    A person using a mobile phone
    A person using a mobile phone.
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    "Mobile service providers, in addition to the aforementioned guidelines, in the development of age-verification mechanism ensure that all SIM cards that are to be used by children/minors shall be registered in line with the provisions in the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 1998 and the Kenya Information and Communications (Registration of SlM-cards) Regulations, 2015. 

    "Mobile phone subscribers/customers are informed of the need to appropriately register their sim cards and declare the intended subscribers/customers of the SIM cards," read the guidelines in part.

    If adopted, the proposed guidelines would be a departure from a section of the Kenya Information and Communications (Registration of SlM-cards) Regulations, 2015, in which the minor who wished to register a SIM card was to be accompanied by their parents or guardians.

    The law, at the time, provided that an adult would register the SIM card under their particulars until the minor attained the legal age of 18 years.

    The proposed law also slaps a heavy penalty on guardians as well as the mobile phone operators who fail to comply.

    "A person who commits an offense under these Regulations for which no specific penalty has been provided in the Act shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding three hundred thousand shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both," read the law.

    The issue of children's protection from online abuse has gained momentum across the globe with concerns that minors are being exposed to adult content, hate speech and cyberbullying.

    This comes even as the government announced a mass switch-off targeting mobile users who have failed to adhere to registration regulations.

    The Communications Authority, at the time, revealed that the subscribers registered their sim cards without providing their photos and correct identification details. 

    The switch-off will be fully implemented by April 15 according to the regulator. 

    The Communications Authority of Kenya offices along Waiyaki Way, Nairobi.
    The Communications Authority of Kenya offices along Waiyaki Way, Nairobi.
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