South African's buying a prepay SIM card from today will need to provide proof of identity to the retailer under new legislation that has come into effect. The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA) requires mobile operators Cell C, MTN and Vodacom, as well as other service providers such as Nashua Mobile, Autopage and Virgin Mobile South Africa, to register on secure databases the identities, physical address and cellular phone numbers of new and existing customers who buy SIM cards.
Existing customers will have 18 months from implementation date to register both their Prepaid and Contract SIM cards and SIM cards of subscribers that fail to comply with RICA within the specified time period will be deactivated.
"The bulk of the Act was implemented in 2005, and the cellphone operators are already assisting the law enforcement agencies to a great extent in performing their duties," says Shenanda Janse van Rensburg, Cell C's Executive Head: Corporate Communications.
"However, the implementation of sections 40 and 62 which require the registration of subscribers, were deferred to finalise a more efficient and practical solution from the original paper based system and it is this amended process requiring face to face verification that is becoming effective on 1 July 2009."
RICA requires everyone to register his or her active SIM cards. In terms of the legislation new SIM cards will only be activated on the cellular networks once registered and existing cellphone numbers that are already active on the cellular networks must be registered within 18 months from 1 July 2009.