Thursday, May 6, 2021

SIM Registration: NIMC hires contractors to enrol Nigerians for identification numbers

The move could expose citizens’ private data, including biometric information, to entities without a track record in handling sensitive material.

• December 16, 2020

Communications minister Isa Ali Pantami has approved licenses for public and private agents to conduct enrolment of Nigerians into the national identity database on behalf of the National Identity Management Commission.

At least 173 agents and 30 public institutions, including civil society organisations, small and medium scale enterprises and non-governmental organisations were approved to carry out the exercise. The aim was to meet the deadline set on Tuesday for December 31, when all lines not linked to a national identity number would be deactivated.

Should the government carry out its threat, at least 163 million telephone lines may be blocked in the next two weeks, Peoples Gazette findings showed. It would be impossible to register as many lines in only two weeks.

In October, NIMC announced that it had enrolled and issued NIN to only 42 million Nigerians after more than a decade of launching the registration drive.

The decision to contract the registration to third party merchants in a bid to meet the arbitrary deadline could expose private data, including biometric information, of millions of citizens to those who might not be able to protect such sensitive information.

Neither NIMC nor the communications minister has been able to clarify how Nigerians’ private data would be protected after being handed over to entities without a track record in handling sensitive data on a large scale.

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