High Court blocks thin SIM technology roll-out

December 18, 2014
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The High Court halted the move by CA to allow Finserve Africa Ltd, a subsidiary of Equity Bank, to roll-out the technology following an urgent application by Kituo Cha Sheria/FILE
The High Court halted the move by CA to allow Finserve Africa Ltd, a subsidiary of Equity Bank, to roll-out the technology following an urgent application by Kituo Cha Sheria/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 18 – The High Court has suspended the decision of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to allow a mobile operator to roll out the thin SIM technology.

The High Court halted the move by CA to allow Finserve Africa Ltd, a subsidiary of Equity Bank, to roll-out the technology following an urgent application by Kituo Cha Sheria.

Judge George Odunga temporarily blocked the process after the legal advice centre claimed that primary SIMs of millions of mobile phone customers’ risks being compromised in an irreparable manner.

Kituo Cha Sheria has accused the CA of authorising the technology without a full audit of the security of data risks to the subscribers’ personal identification number of the primary thin SIM that will be overlaid by the thin SIM.

The petitioner contends that CA’s action is in blatant disregard of the Kenya Information and Communication Act and Consumer Protection Regulation 2010.

“The Communication Authority hurriedly authorised the use of the thin SIM technology in spite of legitimate concerns regarding security of data on the primary SIM that shall be overlaid by the thin SIM,” Kituo Cha sharia argues.

The petitioner believes that the decision to permit the use of the thin SIM technology prior to complete satisfaction as to its security was illegal.

In October, The Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Ministry said it was in full support of the entry of the thin SIM technology in Kenya.

Speaking before the parliamentary committee on Energy, Communications and Information, ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said despite the ongoing debate concerning the vulnerability of the privacy of the users, the approval by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is sufficient proof it is fit for use.

He called on all stakeholders in the industry to allow for the one year pilot period given by CA and at least give a chance to Kenyans to make a decision about the thin SIM.

Last Month, Equity Bank Chief Executive Officer James Mwangi said the bank expected to receive about five million thin SIMs in the next few weeks before the official launch of the technology.

At the moment the bank has distributed at least 200,000 normal SIM cards for customers with dual SIM handsets as well as selling phones to those without.

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