Group challenges order blocking 72 million non-biometric SIM cards in Nigeria

The Nigerian Federal Government’s decision to order the blocking of more than 72 million SIM cards not linked to holders’ National Identification Numbers (NINs), and their biometrics by extension, has not gone down well with many. Nigerians, including rights advocates who are calling for the movement to be quashed.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), an advocacy group, has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to a federal high court in Lagos, claiming the decision to block SIM cards violates owners’ human rights, reports The Whistler .

Earlier this month, the federal government asked the country’s telecommunications operators to partially block all unregistered SIM cards when the tenth extension of the SIM-NIN registration deadline expires.

SERAP, in its lawsuit, argues that the SIM cards should not have been blocked in the first place since the federal government, according to the group, did not put in place the necessary logistics to allow disadvantaged categories of people to register for digital ID.

The group says that due to these logistical shortcomings, as well as administrative and bureaucratic red tape, groups of people such as those with physical disabilities, the elderly as well as those living in hard-to-reach communities were unable to have their biometric data captured for the NIN.

SERAP therefore asks the court to seek the unlocking of SIMs to bring justice to the victims, to place a restraining order on any future similar movement, and then to order the federal government to put in place without delay the necessary measures to ensure that all Nigerians can register. and get the NIN without bottlenecks, notes The Whistler.

Fears as South Africa proposes SIM card registration with biometrics

Three thousand kilometers away, in South Africa, there are already fears for the security of personal data as the country considers a policy that will require the identification of SIM cards using the biometric data of citizens.

In an op-ed published by The Star, the writer worries that this proposal by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to register SIM cards with biometrics is not only life-threatening deprived of citizens, but constitutes a threat to individual freedoms. of South Africans.

The columnist also acknowledges that this practice of registering SIM cards with biometrics is gaining traction on the continent, and that the trend could lead to what he calls the opening of “Pandora’s box, leading to the 21st version century of freedom from physical and emotional curses”. on humanity.

He says if the South African policy materializes, the country will join countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Zambia where identification of a SIM card requires submission of biometric information at some point or time. another.

Mexico’s Supreme Court rules against biometric phone registry

Mexico is bucking the biometric SIM bonding trend. The government has suffered a blow in its plans to set up a national biometric mobile phone registry after the country’s highest court ruled the move unconstitutional. The court held that the registry did not have sufficient safeguards for data confidentiality and that the project would also violate human rights and should therefore be invalidated.

According to Reuters, nine of the 11 members of the tribunal voted against the creation of the register which would have seen phone users register their SIM cards by submitting information such as fingerprints and iris biometrics at the user’s expense.

The register, dubbed Panaut, was passed in parliament in April last year but was suspended a few months later following legal challenges by rights groups.

The government said it wanted to create the register to help tackle the country’s high crime wave, as phone users will not be able to make anonymous calls while committing a crime.

Article topics

Africa | biometric identification | biometrics | digital identification | identity verification | trial | Mexico | national identity card | Nigeria | SIM cards | South Africa

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