Time is running out for telephone users - mobile and landline - to register their details with their service providers as required under the Telephone Services Decree 2010.
The Compulsory Customer Registration was made following a submission by the head of the Justice Ministry, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, early last month.
Sayed-Khaiyum claims a significant number of telephone users are making bogus and threatening calls, including bomb threats thus diverting and wasting public resources.
"They have been impersonating government ministers to obtain certain privileges and have threatened the lives of Government ministers in an attempt to deter ministers from the execution of their official duties.
"There is also a growing concern at the likelihood of mobile phones being used for money laundering and the planning and execution of crimes."
But critics question the motives of Sayed-Khaiyum and the way the decree will work.
Opinion piece Suliasi Daunitutu:
Why does Vodafone require fingerprints and details of how you make your livelihood when the Telephone decree doesn't require it?
And why doesn't Vodafone put the form up on their website?
Compare the information requested by Vodafone and Innk and what section 3 requires from all existing customers:
a) name and date of birth as appears on the birth certificate
b) permanent home address or address if visiting Fiji
c) copy of valid photo id
d) signature of parent or guardian if under 18.
The Telephone Decree is an excuse for the interim government to create a database on everyone who use telephones and therefore collect information for FIRCA.
Additional info required by Vodafone but not by the Decree are:
b) postal address
c) occupation/means of livelihood
e) business/employer address
f) left hand thumbprint
g) PIN number for the phone (which the user usually sets on his or her own)
h) Father's name
Vodafone is also collecting the following information on a voluntary basis:
In Section 3, it requires all existing telephone owners (both cellphones and landlines) to register the information required to their service provider (Vodafone, Digicel, Telecom Fiji) within a month from the coming into force of the Decree.
Since March 2010, the Ministry of Defence required all service providers to take fingerprints, copy photo ID of all new customers buying phones. This Decree now requires ALL existing customers of cell and landline phones to now register their details or their phone lines will be cut off. The service provider commits an offence ($200,000 fine) if they continue to provide telephony services to a customer who hasn’t registered the required details.
Section 7 of the Decree requires customers to inform their service provider if their details change (change of address etc).
Section 8 requires a customer to infom their service provider if their phone is stolen, lost or destroyed, or if they give their phone away as a gift.
If as a customer you provide "false and misleading information", there will be a $10,000 fine or 1 year imprisonment or both. You must also immediately register any change in the registration information (change in your birthdate?) or be subjected to a fine of $10k or 6 months imprisonment.
Editor's Note: Both Vodafone and Telecom Fiji Ltd have said customers who register late will not be charged.