NIA responds to NCA on safety and quality of biometric data collected at Sim card re-registration exercise

Sim cards

With the Sim Card re-registration exercise fraught with issues with authorities making efforts to at least resolve some, a letter from the National Identification Authority (NIA) addressed to the National Communications Authority purported to be a response to the NCA on the process that led to the commencement of the compulsory Sim card re-registration exercise has brought up questions regarding the legality and sanctity of the process.

The NIA letter dated 13th September 2021 answered questions based on three key issues, one of which was to confirm whether or not “the biometric data to be collected by the NCA for the purpose of SIM registration is in a format and of sufficiently high quality for successful verification against the National Identity System”. The NIA answered in the negative.

“The design and development of the process by which the National Communications Authority (NCA), acting by itself or through a third party, will collect and store biometric data of SIM cardholders is exclusive to the NCA. NIA does not have any input in the development of the said Android Registration Application. NIA is unable to confirm that the biometric data to be collected by the NCA for the purpose described above will meet the standard to enable successful verification against the National Identification System (NIS) database” parts of the letter read.  

Citing Regulation 7 of the National Identity Register Regulations 2012 (L.I 2111), the NIA argued that as an institution its mandate involves verifying the identity of all persons who seek to partake in transactions that require the verification of identity, as such an exercise of that nature requires their involvement.

NIA also in the process revealed that it has entered into a Public Private Partnership Agreement with Messers, Identity Management Systems II Limited, its technical partner, to develop and manage a state-of-the-art Biometric Verification Platform which guarantees the highest security and meets the highest international standards for use by all agencies to confirm the identity of their clients during transactions which require proof of identity.  

The NIA also said it cannot “endorse or guarantee the quality of the biometrics to be captured by NCA (during the SIM card registration exercise) with devices NIA has not duly certified.

By: Stella Annan | Twitter @activetvgh


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