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Kenyan High Court Blocks Introduction of Thin SIM Technology

A Kenyan High court has stopped the plan to move into thin SIMs by Finserve Africa Ltd which had previously received approval from the country’s Communications Authority.

A Kenyan High Court has put a stop to the plans by an Equity Bank offshoot, Finserve Africa Ltd, to introduce thin SIM technology in Kenya. The move to introduce the new thin SIMs had previously received approval from the Communications Authority of Kenya which is the regulatory agency with the responsibility of overseeing such matters.

However, the agency’s decision to allow the thin SIM technology was urgently challenged by an application filed by Kituo Cha Sheria. The Kenyan High Court with Judge George Odunga presiding arrived at the decision to momentarily halt all processes in motion by Finserve Africa Ltd and the Communications Authority to deploy the technology. The decision of the court was partly swayed by submissions from the legal advice centre that suggest that introduction of new Thin SIMs would put at risk the millions of primary SIMs presently ubiquitous in phones around the country. The application by Kituo Cha Sheria had also alleged that the Communications Authority of Kenya had acted too quickly in allowing the technology to be deployed without a comprehensive appraisal of the hazards of such a move to the data security of existing subscribers whose ID numbers would become susceptible to overlays should Thin SIMs come on board. This lapse according to the plaintiff was in contravention of the Kenya Information and Communication Act as well as Consumer Protection Regulation which was passed in 2010.

Support for introducing the Thin SIM technology in Kenya climbs high, with the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Ministry expressing strong support for the deployment of the technology in Kenya in October. In the intervening period, parent company of Finserve Africa Ltd, Equity Bank has pushed on with preparations for commencing sales of thin SIMs with its Chief Executive Officer revealing the imminent arrival of as much as five million thin SIMs.


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