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Business News of Saturday, 16 March 2019

Source: Newsdesk report

Telcos must respect Ghanaian laws - Consumer Rights Advocates

Official of NCA speaking at the roundtable discussion to mark World Consumer Day Official of NCA speaking at the roundtable discussion to mark World Consumer Day

Ghana yesterday celebrated the 2019 World Consumer Rights Day, with a call on telecommunication operators to respect the laws governing sim card registration in order to safeguard the security and safety of consumers in the Ghanaian telephony market.

The attention of the Telecos was drawn to the laws on sim card registration, following the presentation of overwhelming evidence that there is widespread sale of pre-registered and activated sim cards on the streets, contrary to the dictates of Ghanaian laws.

This call, following the presentation of evidence, was made by various stakeholders who attended a round table discussion organized by the Consumer Advocacy Center, the local chapter of Consumers International, on the theme “Attacking Mobile Money Fraud” towards a ‘Better Digital World’.

The stakeholders included the National Communication Authority (NCA), the Cyber Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), of the Ghana Police Service, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the E-Crime Bureau and Consumer organisations.

Speaking at the round table discussion, the President of Consumer Advocacy Center, Prof Gosky Alabi observed that there have been breaches in the implementation of the Legislative Instrument (L.I 2006) passed in 2011 which have allowed fraudsters to invade the telecom market and defrauding innocent consumers.

She observed that the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration Regulation (L.I 2006) has been designed to ensure that subscribers of telecommunication services are properly identified and addressed. However, Prof Gosky adduced evidence to show that the Telcos are not complying with the law.

Presenting a video evidence to support her claim, she explained how officials of the Consumer Advocacy Center undertaking a mystery shopping exercise, easily bought SIM Cards without providing any identification card to support the registration. The team, she said, went on to register the SIM Cards on the Mobile Money platform so as to engage in financial transactions.

In order to confirm the ability to use fake identification to engage in international transactions, the Consumer Advocacy Center team successfully arranged for funds to be transferred from the United States unto the fraudulently acquired Mobile Money registered SIM Cards.

The content of the presentation was a surprise to some of the stakeholders at the forum, whilst the Head of Cyber Crime Unit of the Police CID, Chief Superintendent Dr Yankson, confirmed that the police are aware of the development.

Chief Superintendent Dr Yankson called on the Telcos to develop a high interest in the operations of their street vendors and also take immediate steps to stop the abuse of L.I 2006.

In a post event interview with this reporter, the Corporate Affairs Director of the Consumer Advocacy Center, Mr Benjamin Essuman hinted that the Center is considering taking all the necessary legal steps to ensure that the Telcos stop violating the law.

He recommended to the NCA, to direct the Telecommunication Service providers to restrict the sale of their SIM Cards to their designated offices, which must be furnished with gadgets to enable their officers back up the identification documents used by subscribers to register SIM cards.

In addition to calling for an authentication system to confirm the information provided for registration of SIM Cards before cards are activated, Mr. Essuman again asked for the institution of an audit into the database of activated SIM cards in order to deactivate SIM Cards that were registered with questionable identification details.