Ex-Icasa councillor slams Rica legislation - TechCentral

Ex-Icasa councillor slams Rica legislation

Former Icasa councillor William Stucke

Former Icasa councillor William Stucke

A former councillor at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has lashed out at South Africa’s Sim card registration legislation, Rica, saying it has severely impacted ordinary consumers while having little or no impact on crime.

William Stucke, who left Icasa last year and who now heads up his own ICT consultancy, said at an industry event in Johannesburg on Thursday that Rica — which requires people wanting to connect to telecommunications operators’ networks to provide their ID and proof of address — has had “zero” effect on reducing organised crime.

“As network operators, you are obliged to provide the facility for the Office of Interception to intercept any of your customers’ [communication]… and keep logging information for a period of three to five years, which can be examined at a later date,” Stucke said. “This was all justified on the grounds of fighting crime and terrorism.”

But he said the unintended consequence has been a spike in identity theft as a result of the fact that tens of millions of South Africans have had to supply their IDs and other personally identifying information, usually at a retail point of sale such as a supermarket tillpoint.

“As with most ill-conceived laws, the effect on Joe Public is serious. The effect on organised crime is zero,” Stucke said. “You can go to Hillbrow and find a man on the street who will sell you 50 pre-Rica’d Sims. What’s the point [of the legislation]? None whatsoever.”

He admitted that law-enforcement authorities have used the law for interception of criminal activity, but said they have provided no details of how it has been used or even how often.

“Is the whole concept of having that kind of legislation valid? I don’t think it is,” Stucke said.

His remarks echo the views of former Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig, who said before the legislation was introduced that it would have a negative impact on both consumers and the industry while helping little in the fight against crime.

Laws similar to Rica in other countries have become a bigger regulatory risk factor for telecoms operators after MTN was last year fined a record-breaking US$5,2bn by Nigerian authorities for failing to disconnect 5m unregistered Sim cards.

That fine, which was later reduce to a still record-setting $3,9bn, continues to be the subject of negotiations between MTN and the Nigerian authorities.  — © 2016 NewsCentral Media


  1. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>“Is the whole concept of having that kind of legislation valid? I don’t think it is,” Stucke said.

    If the validity of RICA is going to be questioned then one can also give reasonable grounds to question various other legislation until all legislation is deemed to be not valid.

    Back in the good old days when an idea like Z.O.C. was conceived, in the absence of RICA, a Blue Label Telecoms was able to distribute a record setting 250K Starter-packs within 3 days over an Easter weekend in Moria ZCC.

    With RICA in-place, the possibility of distributing the same number of SIMs over a long weekend, is near impossible; but we also have such legislation as FICA – and why are you NOT questioning the validity of such legislation…???

    What I believe should be happening, in the same way that banks are now cooperating with Home Affairs; is that the RICA information required from consumers – which is basically the same as FICA; ought to always be captured and shared to a common database so as to provide full service financial offerings to the same consumer;

    If we are in agreement that FICA is valid then why should RICA, when activating a SIM; not also serve to enable mobile money and e-banking service offerings that are not restricted because you need to comply with FICA –

    …so, rather cooperate to use both legislation for mutual benefit – instead of criticizing; come up with a solution that will work to the benefit of everyone.

  2. I like your idea of consolidating the information via banks.

    However you must admit that he has valid points about it having basically no impact on crime. FICA is most definitely also a huge pain in the butt. Which could benefit from a trusted middle-man approach.

    I bought a flat a while back and I had to FICA till I was fed up way past my ears with it. At every conceivable point of the procedure, with every party involved I had to FICA. Again… and again… and again… for weeks on end. This was about the same time I was organising a trip to the UK.

    And you know what?.. When I tried to open a fixed deposit via internet banking for savings purposes the other day. The platform of the same bank that I pay my home loan to every month… I got an error stating I must go in to the bank with proof of residence. I nearly had a fit. I won’t mention the Bank’s name – I will give them a piece of my mind soon enough in person.

    It was not always like this. I can only assume it is to do with rampant fraud. I bought a printer several years ago. The vast majority of printouts I have made since the acquisition has been of my Telkom Bill, my Pay Slips and bank statements for various RICA, FICA, SICA, TIKA and LIKA purposes – Take your pick. I wish they could rather get a KWIKA law passed.

    Printer ink is expensive and trees are our friends. And the printer is mine!

  3. William Stucke on

    > …so, rather cooperate to use both legislation for mutual benefit – instead of criticizing; come up with a solution that will work to the benefit of everyone

    Actually, I was one of several ISPA people who spent some five years helping the DoJ and DoC understand how to do it better while this legislation was being drafted. It was considerably improved as a result, and some of the more unworkable ideas modified or dropped.

  4. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>It was considerably improved as a result, and some of the more unworkable ideas modified or dropped.

    Well, either the selected wording of the title of this TC article needs to be improved; or perhaps written in isiZulu, so I can better understand how one would slam the very legislation which one worked to improve.

  5. William Stucke on

    Titles are written to attract attention, not necessarily to be accurate 😉

  6. Ross Gordon on

    Yes there is certainly reasonable grounds to question a lot of other legislation, yes that is so very true. While I use SANRAL as an example, it merely serves as an example and the principal applies to many other areas.
    Because SANRAL is required to invoice a user within a certain time period it is necessary for SANRAL to have accurate addresses. In order for addresses to become ‘more’ accurate, proof of residence is required. We now have banks, municipalities, traffic,cell companies etc with a large volume of proof of residence. It is simple enough to ‘forge’ a proof of residence, all one has to do is to change the name and let everything else remain the same. Let me give you another example, the immigration people decided that in order to safe guard children, a full birth certificate is required together with various letters of authorisation, the department of trade decided that a full birth certificate would not and does not address the problem, apparently the department of trade proved their point.
    Let me go back to SANRAL, the SANRAL act provides for the funding of roads from fuel tax levies, it really does, go read it yourself, SANRAL decided that we needed gantry’s, cost of Gantry’s, with software, etc R18bn, more than the cost of the GFIP R12.5 bn. 80% of our legislation is either unnecessary or non-effective.

  7. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>80% of our legislation is either unnecessary or non-effective.

    Legislation is not like some sort of mushroom; exploding into existence without warning so as to take everyone by surprise –

    Believe it or Not;

    …there is a very lengthy process that goes into the finalization and passing of all legislation and that same process allows for inputs from all who are going to be effected by the legislation –

    …just because YOU couldn’t be bothered with participating in this process of passing legislation, it doesn’t therefore entitle YOU to flout all the legislation that has been passed through an accepted process that allows for everyone to participate and voice their concerns and views before it is passed.

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