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I am a RICA criminal

The RICA law requiring all cellular SIM cards to be registered came into effect on 1 July. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tests the law and confesses to a new crime…

As of yesterday, I am a criminal.

I brazenly walked into a large CNA outlet, stepped up to the cellphone service kiosk, and without any form of identification demanded two starter packs, one with a Vodacom phone number and one with MTN. In full sight of anyone who bothered to look, I took the packs to the cashier and handed over R1,98 to cover the 99c cost of each pack.

It gets worse.

Once I got home, in total secrecy, I slipped the SIM cards from each provider into two old phones, and switched them on. The MTN card worked immediately, and I was able to begin receiving calls without any further ado. The Vodacom card required me to dial 100 to activate it, and I could then start receiving calls on that phone too.

In the above process, I violated the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica) about half a dozen times – that I know about. The law came into effect on 1 July this year, even though it had been passed back in 2003. Various impracticalities, mainly relating to the process of identifying cellphone users and SIM card owners, delayed its implementation. Following various amendments, it now criminalises a range of acts of commission and omission that previously were normal everyday practice.




Anyone buying a cellphone or a SIM card is required to provide full names and surname, ID number or passport number, and proof of physical address. This could be by means of any document that includes your name and residential address, including bank statements, municipal rates, as long as they are not older than three months, or insurance policies, lease or rental agreements and TV or vehicle licences.

But there’s a loophole as wide as a cellular base station: to quote The Times quoting the Minister of Justice, “those in an informal residence should provide the address of a school or church closest to the area in which they live” The latter loophole also includes retail stores.

If I were a bona fide, fake card carrying criminal, instead of the accidental variety, I would thank the Minister on bended knees. Now I can just take my fake ID into a retail store, and give that very store I am in as my address!

Of course, the loophole is essential to keep those without formal housing linked in to the communications network, but it means that anyone who plans to commit a crime using a cellphone can and will simply pretend to be living “informally”.

It means that, as with gun laws, the innocent are closely monitored and tightly policed, while those of criminal intent remain outside the reach of the law.

Penalties

The purpose of the law is noble, as often is the case with well-intentioned legislation that falls apart under the burden of reality: It enables authorities to intercept cellular communication in order to track criminals more effectively.

But the absurd penalties it suggests for those who fall foul of the law suggest that it is a big stick with which the authorities want to beat everyone into line. Here is the stick:

Anyone who “sells or in any other manner provides, any cellular phone or SIM-card to any other person” and fails to get that person’s full names, identity number and address and a photocopy of their ID; is guilty of a crime.

Anyone whose “cellular phone or SIM-card is lost stolen or destroyed”, or “any other person who was in possession or had control thereof when it was so lost stolen or destroyed” and who does not “within a reasonable time after having reasonably become aware of the loss, theft or destruction of the cellular phone or SIM-card, report such loss theft or destruction in person or through a person authorised thereto by him or her to a police official at any police station”; is guilty of a crime.

In both cases, the criminal is liable to a fine not exceeding R2 000 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years. Thank goodness there is a cap on the sentences.

But wait, there’s more. You face the same penalty if you are one of those scoundrels who “intentionally and unlawfully, in any manner modifies, tampers with. alters, reconfigures or interferes with, any telecommunication equipment, including a cellular phone and a SIM-card, or any part thereof”; or if you are one of those low-lifes who “reverse engineers, decompiles, disassembles or interferes with, the software installed on any telecommunication equipment, including cellular phone and a SIM-card, by the manufacturer thereof; or allows any other person to perform any of the acts referred to”.

The wireless application service provider (WASP) industry, which exists to tamper with equipment and come up with intelligent new solutions as a result, is no doubt consulting its attorneys as we speak. Ordinary individuals, though, who indulge in thuggish behaviour like giving an old phone to a friend or in the vandalism of mutilating a SIM card will probably have to appeal to the Constitutional Court. Should the letter of the law be applied, that is no doubt exactly where these provisions will arrive for deliberation.

Registration

Aside from such provisions undermining the credibility of the law, there are also practical concerns with the registration of all existing SIM cards.

First, there is the obvious initial registration barrier: There are a total of about 42-44 million pre-paid SIM cards in use in South Africa, and all of these have to be registered. It’s unlikely the cellular networks have the physical resources to achieve that in the next 18 months, if ever. The nature of pre-paid also means that it is highly unfeasible that users will be able to comply with Rica requirements. After all, these are not the equivalent of access to a bank account; they are the equivalent of access to a call box.

Former Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig told Brainstorm magazine in 2006 that millions of South Africans who use prepaid cellphones work in the informal sector and many live in far-flung rural areas.

“They are completely dependent on their prepaid cellphones to find work and to remain in contact with their families. Depriving them of the ability to communicate via cellular telephony is to once more condemn them to the world of the ‘absolutely have-nots`,” he said.

“It is highly unlikely that the registration of prepaid cellphone customers will bring down the crime rate as it is easy for criminals to get a SIM card from a neighbouring country, commit the crime and throw away the phone, without ever registering it. Although crime needs to be fought with all our might, this proposal needs more careful thought in terms of its unintended consequences before becoming law.”

Such comments did result in the Act being amended, but more in order to reduce the burden on networks than on consumers. As it is, Vodacom was an accomplice in the process of activating my new, illegal phone number. Eighteen months from now, if I haven’t confessed to my crime and handed over all the evidence of my existence, the number will be deactivated.

Stretching the Law

But in the meantime, there is the law enforcement issue. The major problem with RICA requirements is that they do not take into account the sheer immensity of the registration task, and do not allow for a broad scale of penalties that are commensurate with the “crime”, as is the case, for example, with traffic offences. This means that failure to report the loss of a 99c SIM card is regarded by the law as almost as severe a crime as failure to report the loss of a firearm. It requires almost the same level of paperwork, and therefore manpower, as the loss of a firearm.

If by some chance we do have all users registering their SIM cards and giving full details every time they get a new SIM card, it will be an absurd waste of the already-stretched resources of the SA Police Services to require admin staff to handle every lost SIM card. The truth is, many pre-paid users simply buy a new starter pack for 99c when their existing airtime runs out, as they often get a better deal on a new starter pack than on recharging an existing one. They can hardly be expected to keep track of every SIM card they ever own and, should they lose or destroy one, they can simply claim they did not know they had lost it.

A privacy affair

Then there are the privacy concerns.

Consumers have every right to be concerned, as not enough effort has been made so far to educate the public, resulting in confusion and uncertainty. The Act allows a wide range of law enforcement agents, under a wide range of circumstances, to access archived information about calls as well as to listen in on calls. Mostly, this requires an application to a judge. But the fine print suggests that, where law enforcement officers believe they need that access urgently to prevent bodily harm, they can bypass the usual process.

To quote, where “it is not reasonably practicable to make an application in terms of section 16(1) or 13jl) for the issuing of an interception direction or an oral interception direction; and the sole purpose of the interception is to prevent such bodily harm, any communication or may orally request a telecommunication service provider to route duplicate signals of indirect communications specified in that request to the interception centre designated therein.”

The interception is only justified where it is intended to prevent bodily harm, and the Government has assured the public it won’t abuse the provisions, but not enough has been done to communicate the purpose, the process and the circumstances to the public.

The law in itself protects privacy, and does indicate penalties for unwarranted violation of privacy – R5-million good enough for you? – but no process for grievances regarding violation of privacy.

All in all, the focus of a positive law designed to stop criminals has focused so heavily on regulating formerly law-abiding citizens, that it has already created huge misconceptions about the intentions of the law.

Clearly, the test case that criminalises an individual merely for losing or passing on a SIM card will also be the test case that makes an ass of this law.

(Acknowledgement: This column could not have been written without the inspiration of Toby Shapshak, the original Skype Criminal)


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50 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Richard

    This article, although at times somewhat inaccurate, does a magnificent job of illuminating the fine print of the Bill that was initially passed six years ago and has subsequently (and rather suspiciously) been kept in the dark. It really worries me that there seems to be such an apathetic and unengaged response from the general public when this Act, on face value, is blatantly threatening every mobile phone user’s privacy of conversation and location. Sadly the “reasonableness-” criterion leaves a great deal upto the (easily corrupted) discretion of law enforcement (or am I being too cynical?) Should this fundamental right take a backseat because of the misdirection towards convenience?

  2. Joe Blogs

    The thing that gets to me is the fact that like most of the current legeslation passed does not go out for public opinion or debate. this is just a clear example of how our government prefers to adopt the constitution when its suits them and to ignore it when they want to. Last that i looked, each and every South African had a right to privacy as stated as one of the key heading in the constitution. So really I don’t care whether this was implemented by the Department of Justice or even the president, all of us as South Africans have a right to privacy and by implementing a law whereby any South African can be listened into at any given time and wit any prior notice is just not on. If I wanted to live in a country where the rights of people are not respected, then I would have moved to Zimbabwe. Mr. Zuma it may a good idea for both you and your cabinet to spend sometime there, maybe then you will learn what not to do as a president. Currently my concern is that we are heading in the direction of a Uncle Bob dictatorship.

  3. Stuart

    Hey Arthur

    Great article!

    This new law is aimed at keeping the plain old law abiding citizen under the microscope and most certainly not intended for law enforcement.
    It’s end time stuff. All in Revelations.
    The new world order wants to know everything about everybody.
    Global enslavement. Big brother is watching.
    I’ve got so much material if you’d like to know more.
    Drop me a mail with your p.o. box and I’ll send you some dvd’s.

    Regards
    Stuart

  4. Johan

    Now what can be more ridiculous. The advice to informal settlent people to use the schools or church addresses – maybe the address of the local shebeen may be more appropriate. Since it would provide cops with much more leads on where to find the individual. How will the schools/churches deal with the flood of enquiries when cops are looking for A or B. Looks like this is like the Gun Laws – make money out of and punish the law abiding few with absolutely no control over the criminals.

  5. I don’t get it. Apparently the law applies to contract subscribers as well, not just pre-paid customers. So as a contract subscriber I supplied all the information they needed to confirm my identity, proof of residential residence, etc. Why do I need to submit the exact same information to comply with the RICA law (which will ironically be at the same MTN/Vodacom/Cell C shop that I used when I originally signed up for a 24 month contract)?

    If they can tap into my conversations without my consent, why can’t they obtain this information from my Service Provider without my consent? It is already a bloody schlep to supply all this information when signing up for a contract, now I have to go through all those pains once again.

    Do they now what a pain in the ass it is to obtain proof of residential address when your POSTAL address appears on all your bills. I mean that’s why we have a thing called a POSTAL address so that people can send our POST to our POSTAL address. If I wanted them to send the stuff to my physical address I would have told them to send my post to my physical address. But guess what, not everyone has the luxury to receive post at their physical address and more importantly, a lot of people live with friends and family, so the water and electricity bill is not always in your name. So you need a letter from the owners in which they need to state that you live on their premises. To make matters worse, these letters are not always acceptable, so what the hell do you need to do to provide proof that you live with your folks/friends/pastor/boss/ect.

    A law only becomes effective if you are able to enforce it effectively. If you can’t do that, it only becomes a burden for law abiding citizens, as well as the people who need to enforce it. In short, a law is just as good as its enforcement.

  6. Death

    This is a pathetic effort and a poor law.

    Now the criminal across the street walks up to my house, when I am not there, and takes my post out of my postbox. He uses that proof of residence and now if they want to find him the cops, how slow they may be, arrives at my house!

    And as Coenraad de Beer pointed out: It is a pain to get your own proof of residence and now you have to deal with this!

    This law will be more trouble than it is worth, mark these words. . .

  7. Stephan

    Great article. Just got a notice from MTN which reads : Yello , as a member of our MTN family we would like to help you with RICA registration. Kindly dial *131*2# to find out more about RICA. MTN

    Under the subject of what happens if I fail to register my sim it reads : Termination of cellular services . Guilty of an offence, liable for a conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.

    Are they going bonkers? A year in jail for not registering a sim? I’m on contract…surely that information would be enough for MTN to register me automatically? I mean , they have my cell no , copy of ID ,proof of residential address…all that jazz.

    Seriosly , we have enough criminals that need to be in the clink. This law will surely not help that process , if not impede it , and will merely throw everyone else in jail. Maybe that’s the plan? Instead of catching the criminals , they intend to keep civilians safe behind lock and key?

    The PR guys appointed by RICA should get a happy slap and a kick in the rear end because they just put a really sour taste in my mouth by threatening me with this nonsense.

  8. Heywood

    The networks will be charging a massive amount for collating, delivering and maintaining The Database, so the longer it takes to do, the more they will earn. But we, the public, are entitled know how much they will be charging government for their efforts, as a cost to government is a cost to the taxpayer.

    And what mechanisms are in place once government has a “suspect” they need to track? Do they instruct network: “Tell us where Mr Goldstruck is right now!”? Very urgent. Immediately record all his phone calls, as well as his voicemail, SMS, MMS, email and WAP activity.

    Have government security and law enforcement agencies also empowered themselves to take measures to PREVENT the commission of a crime? If so, who gets to decide who MIGHT be about to commit a crime?

    I guess there are slick answers from government and the networks, but I’ve not seen any published yet.

  9. Estelle

    I became a RICA criminal today! I have a very old Nokia phone that I wanted to give to my foster-son who has 2 older, unregistered sim cards (MTN and C).
    After a few attempts and calls to 111, I was told that because I am a contract-user, the phone is locked into the Vodacom network and will not accept other sim cards; 111 told me to go to a Vodacom store; I went to Bedford Centre; they referred me to Vodacare; I drove to the Vodacare store in Eastgate; they advised me that I can only get the phone unlocked at HQ in Midrand. Screech.

    In a moment of inspiration as I dropped my son off in Bez Valley, I suggested that we buy a Vodacom starter pack; drove to 3 different shops; eventually found a Voda starter pack; dialled 100 and could not activate the Sim card.
    Phoned 111 – need to register the SIM first. Back to shop; they don’t have Rica (ok, it was a Halaal butchery!). Drove to Kensington; only an MTN store available; would not do RICA for a Voda SIM. Went to Pep. Yes, they could help. ID? Sure. Proof of physical address? Oh poo. Then I noticed a little green Home Affairs slip of paper at the back of my ID book – with an address that I left in 1995. The whole address is scored out in ink, but the teller didn’t mind. And neither did I.
    Now we’re just waiting for completion of registration and activation … and then … communication (-:

    (I am rather interested to see what happens when I go to register my own SIM … wondering if I should use the same wrong address again?)

  10. Janine

    So if my pre-paid phone or simcard gets stolen, do I need to declare it? at Vodacom they told me that I don’t have to inform anyone, but what if my sim is used by someone else and I get blamed for something I didn’t do?

    Who thought of this law, cause I really can’t see how I am protected!!!!!!

  11. ChrisH

    For once in my life, I thought I would be one of the 1st people to actually register, instead of just waiting until the last day. I ported my wife from MTN to Vodacom pre-paid, so that I can do airtime trasnfer from my phone to hers – very convenient etc. That was two weeks ago. Once I requested the port, her number was no longer availbale. It took a whole week for us to recive the port successful message. Then to comply with RICA – what a farce. I have now been to exactly, count them again, yes, exactly twenty two different RICA terminals over the past week. Every single one has a network problem – once you get past the illiterate person manning the terminal in the 1st place. Total time spent trying to RICA? Almost twenty seven hours of my life wasted. Still my wife is without a phone that actually works.

    I tried buying a new SIM card – it appears that they are now ALL blocked until you’ve RICA’ed them. So, the new RICA crap has effectively cut me off from my wife during the day, and her from civilisation. I’m on my way to try and get it sorted out again. Please hold thumbs for me.

  12. Great article!

    I’m trying to find ways of being able to give up my cellphone… one of them is using a UHF carrier to a VOIP line.

    I really do hope people make a stand against this.

  13. Ernie

    This whole RICA thing is a direct invasion of our right to privacy and is against the constitution. Oh but I suppose that doesn’t matter to this government as the constitution means nothing to them. I will not register my sim card period and if they cut my line I will take the matter to the constitutional court. I am tired of being abused by this government. While criminals walk free on our streets shooting innocent people for their cars, they waste money on crap like this is instead of focusing on the real issues we face in this country.

    It is about time we as South Africans stand together against this sort of abuse.

  14. I WANT TO RIGESTERTED PEOPLE FOR RICA

  15. nontokozo mangoye

    l fully agree with the RICA regulation to register sim cards and l have registered mine and my children s sim cards.what l dont understand is why do l have to register the sim card in the handset lam buying because l will not use that sim card.why can’t handsets be sold without sim cards

  16. Davy

    Can you say “Patriot Act”? One step closer.

  17. harold

    the constitution states that every person has the right to privacy, that includes not to have their right to privacy of communication infringed.What I wonder is how was this law passed because when a is in conflict with the constitution it is automatically invalid.

  18. Craig

    Heres an idea. Lets everyone just stop using cell phones and by implication stop paying the service providers. Then you will see how quickly the service providers get this nonsense sorted out with government.Hit them where it hurts, in the pocket.

  19. con

    yep, rica is a 4 letter word

  20. Bob

    Apart from victimising law abiding citizens once again, I think our clueless MPs will have successfully made a measurable contribution to our annual murder score. Think on it, owners of registered phones are potential targets for serious crime. If a criminal needs a cell number for a few days, then a simple mugging will only suffice for about 24 hours before the cel is reported stolen and the sim is locked. But on the other hand, if the victim is in no condition to report the loss of his/her rica registered phone…?

  21. Mpho Mphahlele

    I’m reporting this lady at my place who is registering our sim cards with R10.00 & she dont give us receipts.my no is 0826610130

  22. nadine

    this whole rica thing is an invasion of my rights.
    what stops some corrupt people within rica of farming out our info? our i.d. no’s, residential address, all sorts of info. it just makes it that much easier for the average joe to be swindeled. also, my teenage children have cells for their own safety…now any old perv can pay someone to get their info and use it.

  23. I would like to know how RICA is beneficial for me, how can RICA help me should I lose my phone along with my sim card?RICA please get back to me and yes my current sim card is registered.

  24. Moditi Boale

    i’m currently struggling to get my phone registered.i don’t have chance during the day as i’m always busy at work monday to friday.i could not register at my nearest mall/shop on weekends as they told me that they only register from moday to friday between 09:00 and 10:00.those shops that works on weekends,i’ve to pock out something(money) to get my phone registered and to my understanding registration is for free.it ddoesn’t make sense to me if i should take leave to get phone registered for free.i think there should be RICA offices everywhere because it looks like this shops are actually doing us a favour

  25. YASSER

    I AM WAITING FOR CELLC TO CANCEL MY CONTRACT AND THEN…..CAUSE I AM NOT GOING TO REGIST. FOR ANYTHING.WHATS THIS NOW…THE WHITE MAN WAS RIGHT WHEN HE TOLD ME,”ANY COUNTRY THAT IS GOVERN BY A BLACK MAN ITS A MESS” THAT IS WHATS HAPPENING TO THIS COUNTRY.RICA WHATS NEXT….VICA?

  26. Graham

    The solution to all this RICA nonsense is simple – Start an internet campaign to advertise a non-compliance action: everyone simply stop using their cellphones for one month. See how quickly the cell companies will put pressure on government to drop this stupid (and unconstitutional) law.

  27. Johan

    Hi

    Today I went to register my cellular phone numbers with RICA. At the CNA I produced bar code ID, Municipal Account and a typed sheet with all these details legibly printed out. Just to make life easier for everybody. Could I register? No. Why? You see, the Municipal Account is in my wife’s name, as she went to open the account. I have to produce another Municipal Account, in my own name. ?? Is this an attack on marriage as an institution or just a comment on our society?

    As Virgin Mobile say on their website, we’ll have to find something else to do with those cell phones. Indeed an interesting thought. Is life at all possible without a cell phone? It used to be. Are the rumours true that cell phone use is linked to the increased incidence of brain cancer? Well maybe we should do without them. I’m sorely tempted.

    Besides, if I want to I can take my laptop to a hotspot and communicate from there. WiFi anybody? Skype, Windows Messenger, Linkdln etc. Or some unsecured network, using Admin and Password.

    I have lost 2 phones through theft, my daughter (9) 2, My wife 3, my father 4 (he was mugged for the phones in broad daylight on several occasions).
    I used to drive a big tank of a BMW520i, the sort they use in cash-in transit heists. The idea amused me until I became the target of highjackers who wanted to use the car for that specific purpose.

    The point is that if criminals want to use a cellular phone for some illegal purpose, they will rob some innocent person of his phone, use the phone for a crime and then discard or sell it. Now the victims will have to convince the authorities of their innocence. The fact that their number was used in a crime will be prima facie evidence to arrest and hold for trial an innocent person. Avoiding arrest and incarceration in the notoriously evil police holding cells will become a survival skill in South Africa, if it is not already. Many opinions are that whistleblowers will be easy to trace with RICA. So RICA will be revealed for what it is: an instrument of oppression in the hands of the government apparatus.

    I would suggest a better solution than RICA. When a voice call is made in the commission of a crime, and a recording exists, the voice prints should match those of the perpetrator. I would rather have my voiceprint be used as a registration biometric. This could be as simple as setting up voice mail, something all cellular service providers are able to do with their existing infrastructure. I do not want my personal private data populating the databases of ten score spammers.

    Identity theft is rife. Anybody can register a cellular number with a fake or stolen ID, and produce bogus account information prepared on a home computer. What next? Is the KGB going to do house calls to make sure you gave the correct address? In an update to the anarchists cookbook there will probably be a new chapter: Revenge using Rica. Register a phone sim card in the name of an enemy, and then use it in the commission of a crime. Stand and watch from a distance as RICA SWAT teams abseil from helicopters, break down the doors and windows, and drag the “perp” away, Judge Dredd style.

  28. Thando January

    You can now RICA yourself. Send me your email address to thando.january@gmail.com and I’ll tell you how easy it is.

    Thanks.

  29. Andries

    This feels like another step has been taken in, as posted earlier, “keep civilians safe behind lock and key”.

    I fear infringement of societies rights in order to prohibit criminal intent will only spark further criminal action by individuals/groups already living outside law-abiding society.
    Great, now we can add “SIM card” to the list of things that could possibly get you killed in south africa.
    Excuse me while I ponder my national pride.

  30. mulalo

    cn u pls help the nation by blocking all under age sim card to access wth adult stuff

  31. renthia

    I had a contract with vodacom with a phone for my daughter they did rica my daughters number but for some reason they did not rica my number. Why should I go to rica my number they have all the documents and it is under the same account. At this stage I told vodacom that I am not going to rica my number and if they cut my sim off in jan I will make a law case against them if they bill me for a service they don’t provide me. I think vodacom is going to loose income if they cut our contract holders that did not rica sims. Does anybody think I can win this lawsuite?

  32. Crap

    well, what does one expect. onother useless law from the kaffirs. All they can do is come up with stupid ideas, showing the rest of the world how useless black goverment really is. They line the pockets every day, the country is going for a ball of shit. Rica my phone, never. it is so easy to get round it, and they are to stupid to realise it.

    Screw the kaffis

  33. John Doe

    Brilliant article.

    I won’t be doing any RICA. I have 3 sims all prepaid. One for my wife one for me and one for the 3g card.

    I wont RICA any of them. I will be waiting to see if any of the are cut off. Also I will be waiting to see if I get arrested.

    Then when I have to rica I will be going in with a letter stating my nearest shop address and they I live on the streets. I wonder what would happen.

    Stuff them all. VIA LA RESISTANCE

  34. Stefan

    Great article, thanks for the legal detail. I would love to see some opposition to this law mustered.

    I don’t trust any government, let alone the ANC with it’s glorious track record of corruption, with monitoring my phone calls – whatever the justification. Get lost RICA. I’ll never register my sim card just to be under their thumbs.

    It seems obvious to me that this whole “deadline” and mass of scare tactics is to gauge how many people actually are subservient and how far the ANC can push civil rights and constitution down the toilet. I say don’t register, you know they’ll postpone the deadline anyway! 😉

    No way the cell phone companies will cut the service of more than 100 000 people in one week! Their shares will plummet on that news and I will be there for the short 😉

    No doubt some hot-shot lawyer will build his career of fighting off this evil. Who’s up to it?

  35. Mmm… Arthur nice post, me a bit late, but registered with another ISP today and I have to RICA with only my ID … uhm.. There are a couple of other documents they also missing?

    I’m a RICA criminal to the bone! Running around with a old unregistered Pay as you go SIM in one phone that I should register some or other time, the other is RICAed on an address long, long past just like FICA. So what does it actually help? PO Box and email delivery is brilliant if you move around a lot.

    I’m a Linux/Unix Professional and many of my communication is encrypted so good luck to the one that is trying to read it. Many internet service providers provide encrypted communication like IM, VOIP, Email and the like so capturing criminals using registered legitimate smartphones using an internet based service like Gtalk or fring not to mention there own VOIP/TUN/jabber server in SA will be just as difficult as trying to catch one with a phone stolen the same morning.

    As previous commentators mentioned I also wonder about Big Brother aka army style black marker on the letters to loved ones. Here is another spanner in the works, what about copyright and related laws? It is the same conundrum as the cache of you web browser. Can Telcos and ISPs look at that?

    Vincent

  36. RICA & FICA are meant to restrict criminal activities , but imho it only makes things difficult for law abiding citizens.

    Criminals are carrying on business as usual.

  37. jeph

    oh what brought me here is that two days ago a girlfriend asked me to buy her 3G and a sim card for internet connection. i told her yes i can pay but she told me she left her ID and proof address at home and she asked me to use my own details. i did use my ID and proof of address but now i realise i have breached the law! what is now worrying me is that i have registered this sim in my name and if anything happens to that sim card or if it abused or if the girl wants to fix me she will simply abuse that sim card and the police will come to doorstep and arrest me say alleging that your phone was found dropped at the crime scene and so u are wanted to assist the police information!

    so i have immediately ordered my girlfriend to transfer to the sim card into her name, if that is possible or to give it back to and then i buy her another sim that she will use her own address and ID. already this is likely to cause problems in our relations because she will think that i dont trust her and that i am thinking of leaving her day.

    however, i will not go back, she will have to comply because i can’t risk 10 yrs in jail or R2000 000,00 fine in the name of love or i cant risk being arrested long after this relationship has ended should the girl decide to hit me back for anything she might blame me in the ending of relationship. she must comply with RICA or else i will demand my sim card back and if she refuses i will ask the police to help on this

  38. Vuyo

    Hi@Rica,I’ve been robbed an amount of R30,000. I need his contact details because his sim has been switched off. Can you help me with his details so I can lodge a case with police?

  39. i really think its so much of help

  40. Doreen Lamb

    Dear Rica can you trace an unknown number that someone keeps phoning my number all hours of day and night. I know who the person is but because of unknown coming through on my side it is hard for me to prove. The person removes there ID and calls up to 9 times at ackward times and just befor it goes to voice mail rings off so as not pay for the call.

    This has been on going since December 2010 I have reported it to the police as well, all they say is change your sim, I should not have to resort to that or switch my phone off because of inconsideration, I want the person approached so that they are aware that they can be found out and they will stop doing what they doing. not only are they harrassing me but my family as well. Please can you help.

  41. While we are not RICA, we can tell you that the police have given you inappropriate information. You need to open a case with the police and don’t take no for an answer. If they refuse, lodge a complaint with the Independent Complaints Directorate (http://www.icd.gov.za). If they do open a case, get a case number and report this to your service provider, and ask them to assist in taking action against the perpetrator. Make sure you have dates and exact times when these calls were made, as the service provider can then both provide the number of the caller to the police and, if the caller is on a contract or has RICAd, identify the caller as well. At the very least, they can cancel the SIM card of the person calling, and that person would have to get a new SIM card, which would need RICA details. From July, whoever it is will need to be RICAd anyway, and all of the above should be feasible.

  42. Doreen Lamb

    Hi Arthur
    Thank you for this information at least someone has come back to me. This person is RICad that I do know with two of his phones. As far as the service provider is concerned they have advise me that Unknown numbers cannot be traced. So much for the police and service providers who to next. I find this unacceptable that we have no help in this country.

  43. Lin H

    Well now, an advert has recently been posted advertising ‘draw money from your cellphone’ or something similar. Presumably this would require a client to disclose confidential bank account information over the phone, even if only on an automated system. Key logging has been the bane of computer users for years, would a cellphone be any more difficult to hack? Just imagine what fun the RICA “agents” could have with all that banking info…. combined with the info necessary for RICA registration ….Of course, it wouldn’t be used for anything dishonest ….. If one pays by debit order for a cellphone contract, does the provider have the right to withdraw that service when payment has been taken? I am not registering, and I would like to think I am not alone. This is a totally unjustified law, particularly in relation to contract subscribers and should be tested in court.

  44. thabang bokako

    RICA, PLEASE CAN YOU TRY TO TRACE THESE NUMBER 078-190-7413. I THINK SOMEONE IS BUSY FOOLING WITH US, THINKING THAT WE WOULD FALL FOR HIS LAME TRICKS. SOME DUDE FORWARDED ME A STRANGE SMS CLAIMING TO BE AN AGENT FROM FIFA WORLDWIDE PROMOTION. RICA I KNOW THAT YOU’RE THE BEST IN TRACING ‘CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES’.

  45. Marius

    I agree, this law is there to control the public and not to catch criminals, this law might even increase cell phone theft since the value of a stolen or lost SIM card will make it a much better business than before. Thieves with thrive on stolen or abandon sim cards while the original owners will be held accountable.

  46. Johannes

    It is now 7 days that Autopage is trying to register my new sim card without success. What is going on?

  47. Hey Guys to all offended, disgusted….

    Try this Facebook site just started, so we can get something going about this unconstitutional breech of our rights by these mobile companies.

    STOP RICA on Facebook.

  48. Piet

    My MTN contract phone has just been suspended today, July 2nd. Now I learn that I will keep paying for my cell while I am being suspended from any service rendered by MTN.

    Should the question not be that it’s illegal to just suspend a contract in the absence of any breach?

    I am certainly considering legal action.

  49. Johan Myburgh

    Two points:
    1: Rica supposedly went into effect 1st July and all illegal cell phone was to be cut, how come I got a scam Nokia Promo sms informing me I won R 290,000.00. Sent from nr +27723689682 and I should phone 0710171669 with ref ZNK012 to claim. I think RICA sucks and will never be effective. Secondly
    2:No dealer/merchant/service provider could answer my question “Why must I RICA my internet” Every enquiry I submitted came up with answers containing the articles and or extracts of the act all pertaining to sim cards.No-where could it be shown that internet connections must be RICA’d. I may be technically handicapped but how is it possible to set up an internet connection without making use of an service provider.
    One stone in the great bush of S.A.’s admin gurus,: Which is the most successful:
    a: Our driver license system,
    b: The new gun license system,
    c: SARS system of requiring all employees to be registered,
    e: RICA

    Oh what a shamble
    Great article though, and some good comments.

  50. Francis Cibane

    Hi Rica Customer Care
    I need urgent help for legal steps regardings the new sim swops now that does not require ID proof. I have been scammed R1230.00 from FNB Bank by the following numbers. 074 517 4472, recorded on my Bank statement eWallet, the number used to process transaction is 079 021 1869. I would be glad if through your system could trace these numbers and let me know who owns them, otherwise we are running a fraudlant system in this country. These criminals must be put to a stop.

    you could contact me on 072 363 7739 (Francis Cibane. A fraudlant case has been launched with FNB regarding these transaction

    Im really upset with Vodacom that they would do a sim swop of my number without my consent. They too, will be hold liable for this action.

    I will be grateful if you could contact me ASAP.

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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