The country boasting the highest peak on the continent (Mt. Kilimanjaro), is also suffering from climbing rates of cyber crime. In the last year, cyber attacks in Tanzania increased by 82%.
To conquer this issue, lawmakers resolved that every consumer with a phone and a SIM card must register that SIM card to a set of biometric data.
As is the case throughout much of the rapidly digitizing world, phishing is growing and scam artists are indiscriminately preying on unsuspecting citizens. The thought is that catching cyber criminals will prove simpler if police can access a database that contains identity information belonging to the thieves.
In much of East Africa, phones function similarly to banks or bank accounts, and people commonly exchange money electronically, and without the use of credit cards.
Phone owners who did not register their SIM cards by the January 20th cut-off date have been denied further cellular service. This is currently affecting 650,000 Tanzanians.
To register their phones, individuals were required to ”go to a local service provider, show their NIDA [National Identification Authority] card or number, get their thumbprint taken—and that information is then shared, vetted and confirmed through the NIDA system.”
Cyber criminals are known for developing their techniques, and adopting new tools and methods when obstacles are thrown their way. Will this law retain any serious long-term impact? Or, on account of the narrow approach to cellular cyber security, is this legal and public exercise merely paying lip service to the notion of thwarting thieves?
For more on this story, visit Voice of America.