The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has proposed in a draft regulation under which persons under 18 years of age would be banned from purchasing, registering or owning a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card in Nigeria explaining that the plan is to “protect minors” and protect them from the liabilities of that arise from the usage of such SIMs.
The proposed regulation was announced on October 5, 2021 during the public inquiry on three regulatory instruments: registration of telephone subscribers regulation, the SIM replacement guidelines and the spectrum trading guidelines on the rulemaking process, in Abuja. The Commission held the event in accordance with Section 57 of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Act.
The NCC said it made the proposal in line with the powers conferred upon it by Section 70 of the Act.
Although the Telecoms giant, MTN urged the Commission to set the age limit to 14years, NCC maintained that the age limit will remain 18 years.
The draft policy makes it clear that the regulations is applied to all persons subscribing to communications in Nigeria and subscribers of foreign licences who are roaming on the network of a licensee in Nigeria. In other words, the regulations will affect everyone using a SIM card for communications in Nigeria and anyone who uses a Nigerian number outside the country.
Seeking to make further clarification, on October 6, the Commission issued a statement signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde titled ‘NCC not disqualifying Nigerians from getting SIM’, saying the modified Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations stipulates that subscriber of communications must not be below 18 years of age.
NCC argued that the age limit proposed in its draft regulation was based on the constitution, which makes 18 years the age of consent in the country.
It added that acquiring a SIM required the subscriber to be of legal status involving a contract between service providers and subscribers.
Other new measures include disqualifying independent registration agents from having access to subscriber information.
All agents or people who register SIM cards in shops, or private agents or sub agents will also no longer have access to details of subscribers, with limits to personal information.