Simcard registration is a hatched plan to conduct mass surveillance on all Ugandans- Unwanted Witness

Sharing Citizens’ Biometric data from National ID with telecom companies is intended to seal a plot for mass surveillance, says Unwanted Witness Uganda.

Unwanted Witness Uganda an activist organization has learned that over 7million telecom subscribers have participated in SIM Card verification exercise since the 7day ultimatum issued by Uganda communications Commission (UCC) last week. The ongoing exercise, which is not fully guided by law, is meant to accomplish a hatched plan by the establishment to intercept and openly conduct surveillance on all Ugandans.

According to 2014/15-budget paper, the government earmarked UGX 205billion for procuring a phone-tapping machine, on grounds that the existing tapping equipment only tracked telephone communications between callers and recipients but could not record their voices. Unwanted Witness is a civil society organization (CSO) that was established to respond to the gap in effective communication using various online expression platforms.

The registration Process going on at an MTN outlet: Photo: New Vision

The billion shillings surveillance equipment supplied by the Israeli firm enables the operatives to listen to phone conversations anywhere in the country, detects the location of a caller and receiver and has the capacity to burst emails accounts that are under surveillance.

“ Verifying National ID data with SIM Card registration only justifies government’s surveillance traits and besides the country does not have a law on data collection, usage and storage which highly exposes citizens’ data to abuse by both state and non-state actors,” warns Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Chief Executive Officer, the Unwanted Witness-Uganda.

Phone users being registered. Photo: Daily Monitor

He said it is important for Ugandans to be aware of the consequences involved when the government decides to share all Ugandans’ biometric data with profit oriented companies whose database is not locally based. The Unwanted Witness calls for withdraw of telcos from SIM registration

We are also concerned about the security of mediums being used to register online and share citizens’ NIN including *197*2#. These mediums are not secure as anyone can hack into it and get access to citizens’ sensitive personal information/data.

Unwanted Witness calls upon government agencies, police, UCC and NIRA to desist from further abusing the privacy of citizens and continuing to deny that telecom companies have not received all citizens’ data, yet sharing a National Identity Number (NIN) is full exposure of one’s identity.

This is a Press Release from Unwanted Witness