By EDDIE OSIFELO
THE Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2021 is set down for debate in Parliament this week.
This after Minister of Communication and Aviation, Peter Shanel Agovaka presented the second reading of the Bill in Parliament yesterday.
The Bill is to amend the Telecommunication Act 2009 to register all prepaid SIM cards that are sold by service providers in the Solomon Islands.
The objectives of the Bill are:
- To register prepaid SIM cards sold in Solomon Islands by service providers;
- To list identification cards that can be used to buy SIM card;
- To set the age categories for person who can buy SIM card;
- To set the procedure for organisations and company to buy SIM card;
- To establish offences relating to this amendment; and
- To establish an electronic registry to record information of each SIM card user.
Minister Agovaka said in the case of Solomon Islands, the need for SIM card registration cannot be further emphasized.
He said financial inclusion services such as mobile banking, mobile payment, electronic wallet and other electronic services cannot be fully operational without SIM card registration.
Furthermore, Minister Agovaka said national security is another reason for SIM card registration.
“Lack of registering prepaid SIM card has created an avenue for potential organized crime which may become a major challenge in the process of criminal investigation.
“Solomon Islands realized the importance of SIM card registration, therefore, the method we deploy in the Solomon Islands must be practical to protect the citizens of Solomon Islands from abuse,” he said.
Minister Agovaka said after considering various SIM card registration methods available, the method preferred in their case is the capture and store method.
He said the capture and store method requires mobile network operators to capture and keep personal information about SIM card users.
“This method has been adopted by 126 countries around the globe and is preferable because of the controls associated with accessing the data.
“Moreover, information regarding the SIM users can only be assessed upon demand from authorities such as the courts,” he said.