Private Legal practitioner, Francis Kwarteng Arthur, has dragged the National Communications Authority (NCA), Ghana Telecommunication Company Limited – operators of Vodafone Ghana, Scancom PLC -operators of MTN Ghana, Airtel Ghana Limited and the Attorney General to the Accra High Court over SIM re-registration.
He alleges that the requirement by the NCA for the telcos to procure, store or use his personal information including his fingerprint, palmprint, iris or facial pattern record or other biometric data or particulars, his rights to administrative justice, property, speech, information and privacy, will be violated.
He is, therefore, asking the High Court to make an order to set aside the directive, instruction or requirement imposed on the mobile network operators by the NCA to procure such personal information. He also wants the NCA and the Telcos to be restrained from authorising, directing, instructing or requiring the collection, storage and use of this personal information.
The sim re-registration exercise commenced on October 1 and is to end on March 31, 2022.
The communications ministry has explained that it is geared at dealing with fraudsters as well as enabling security agencies to track persons who engage in criminal activities.
SIM card users are required to use the National Identification card also known as Ghana card to undertake this registration.
Mr. Arthur in his writ shares his own experience of going through the process “That I complied with the 1st respondent’s directive by completing the Stage One procedures for all the SIM card numbers which I mentioned in Paragraph 4 of this Affidavit.
- That on October 27, 2021, and after I completed the Stage One registration procedure for the 3rd Respondent, I went to the 3rd Respondent’s office or customer care centre at the Graphic Road, Accra, at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon to have myself administered to the Stage Two of the SIM card number registration process.
That at the 3rd Respondent’s customer care centre, the 3rd Respondent’s workmen, agents or officials used a digital camera to take a headshot photograph of me and, further, demanded that I submitted my two palms for another close-up digital photograph of them.
That alarmed by these very intrusive requests, I refused the directives and, rather, demanded an explanation, whereupon two of the 3rd Respondent’s workmen, agents or officers told me, simply, that it was a requirement without which I could not complete my SIM card number registration with the 3rd Respondent.
That on October 28, 2021, at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, I sent a formal email communication to the 3rd Respondent in which I demanded answers to the following questions (to which I am yet to receive an answer):
What is the purpose for or reason behind taking a headshot photo of a subscriber who wishes to register his or her SIM card?
What is the purpose for or reason behind taking a photo of the palm of a subscriber who wishes to re-register his or her SIM card?
Where will the photographs be sent and stored? And on what authority are you allowed to take such photographs and personal sensitive information of over 10 million subscribers?
Attached and marked as Exhibit FKA 3 is a copy of the email communication which I sent to the 3rd Respondent.
- That by the 1st Respondent’s directive which is mentioned in Paragraphs 11 and 12 of this Affidavit, all mobile network operators (including the 2nd Respondent, and the 4th Respondent) are to and, indeed, will follow the same or similar procedures that the 3rd Respondent had begun to take me through – procure, store or use Subscribers’ personal information (including their fingerprint, palmprint, iris or facial pattern record or other biometric data or particulars) for the SIM card number registration purposes.”