SIM Card Data Verification a Continuous Exercise, Says NCC

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Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has re-assured Nigerians of the continuous exercise of the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card data verification, which it said, remained a global practice.

In an interview with journalists at the weekend in Abuja, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare, said the subscriber data so far captured by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), as well as data captured by other statutory agencies, were being cleaned-up, verified and harmonised in accordance with the Act setting up the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), coupled with the directive of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

According to Dare, “the position of the NCC has been consistent, in the sense that as is the normal practice globally, the subscriber data that has been captured has been undergoing the normal process of verification. “Whatever name you call it; it is simply a process of verification. The operators, at the point of registration, are expected to capture specific data – biometrics such as picture and fingerprint, name, address, among others. Once they capture it, they put it together, and from time to time, they send it to NCC through secure electronic means.”

He explained that, as NCC collects the data to the central system, it then checks and verifies what has been submitted by the operators, saying this has been the process from the beginning and it has not changed.

“We issued a Subscriber Registration Regulations in 2011 together with Registration Specifications and these have remained substantially the same since then. What we now have is an additional layer of verification via a presidential directive and an enabling law – that all data-collecting agencies of government should harmonise their data with NIMC – because statutorily it is only NIMC that has the powers to create a national citizens’ database. So, NCC falls within the category of data collecting agencies. So, as we collect SIM registration data, the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) collects for drivers’ licence, immigration collects for International Passport and they all submit everything to NIMC.

“Now, what does NIMC do? They also collect and verify. So, it is a continuous process. Of course – even though technology is being used – there is no way you can verify and complete the processing of 160 million subscribers within a short period. And don’t forget that we had 80 million, then 90 million, then 100 million subscribers and the number keeps increasing. So as their data come in, we verify. That process is painstaking, it is based on technology and it is ongoing. So the question of invalid data does not exist,” Dare explained.

Explaining the validity of SIM data, Dare explained that before a SIM can be connected to any network in Nigeria, the subscriber data must be captured by the MNOs and that if any data field is missing, such a SIM card will not be activated.

He, however, clarified that there was no serious problems with SIM data, as the Commission is working with MNOs to correct any identified gap.