Identification of phone lines boosts tracking of criminals?

30Jul 2021
The Guardian
Identification of phone lines boosts tracking of criminals?

THE government has blocked 18,622 mobile telephone lines whose use has been linked with criminal activity, according to Communications and Information Technology minister Dr Faustine Ndugulile.

He has lately affirmed that the lines have been blocked in the past three months after it was noticed that they were used in criminal activities.

A slightly diminished figure of 14,768 was given in relation to national identification cards used to register SIM cards touched by crime suspicions, and the government has since suspended them.

A ministerial meeting called to discuss the revenue and expenditure results of institutions under the ministry in the last quarter of the past fiscal year, April to June, was told that efforts are continuing to hunt the owners of the cards and lines in question.

There was meanwhile a new tone with regard to the work of the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) when the minister affirmed that it has submitted its quarterly report of online criminal activities.

This matter tied up with the issue of the need for members of the public to verify their SIM cards, where it was specified that there are more than ten million such cards yet to be verified.

It was a bit surprising that the minister saw it as a matter for the public to take up the verification process, while members of the public are weary about the issue.

The minister issued an open notice on an impending countrywide disconnection of SIM cards that have not been verified, insisting that it is essential for the media to notify the public on the issue, “as through your mobile phone you can verify your SIM card”.

That leaves out being handed the number by TCRA, and ten million people are still waiting, as if it was a near-impossible issue.

Those working for the national identification agency (NIDA) might be associated, fairly and rightly or otherwise, with making all efforts to prolong the process for as long as they can for reasons of monopoly, that anyone who has urgent need for the number or the card.

That would effectively mean seeing officials turn the agency from a public office to a private consultancy, as such appeals never go for free.

Having ten million clients waiting out there who must someday see the urgency of having their numbers confirmed or verified is no small matter, and it might see some cash suspiciously changing hands.

And since other government agencies see this as an issue of public education so that people follow up, it will remain like that with contingents of people paying from time to time, unless something to the contrary turns up somewhere.

With improved means of communication, why doesn’t NIDA release a block of numbers for each district for the police, revenue offices or property registration bodies to handle?

Just why should ten million people risk losing communication in a situation where the government has been making efforts to heighten diligence in the public service?