Cran’s Regulatory Failure LeavesConsumers Vulnerable

Paul Rowney

The telecommunications landscape in Namibia is marred by a concerning trend of data privacy breaches, exacerbated by the regulatory inefficiency of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran). 

Despite clear directives and regulations, the abuse of personal data persists, leaving consumers vulnerable and unprotected.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology’s recent reaffirmation of the deadline for SIM card registration by the end of March underscores the urgency of the situation.

While lauding mobile operators for their digital innovations in online registration, the government is acutely aware of the ongoing illegal harvesting of biometric data by certain dominant operators.

This practice, conducted under the guise of registration processes, constitutes a severe breach of data privacy, exposing sensitive personal information to potential abuse and misuse.

Initially, Cran took steps to address this issue, instructing operators to cease the unauthorised collection of biometric data.

However, one operator has blatantly disregarded these directives, continuing to gather biometric information without consequences.
Cran’s subsequent failure to enforce its regulations effectively has emboldened such practices, leaving consumers at the mercy of unscrupulous operators.

Moreover, Cran’s reluctance to assert its authority over licensed entities further compounds the problem.


Despite being aware of ongoing violations, the regulator has failed to exercise its mandate to protect consumer privacy and ensure regulatory compliance.

This regulatory vacuum has allowed corporations to prioritise commercial interests over ethical considerations, perpetuating a culture of data exploitation and disregard for consumer rights.

The implications of Cran’s regulatory inertia are far-reaching.

Without intervention, consumers remain exposed to the risk of data misuse, undermining trust in both the telecommunications sector and regulatory authorities.

Urgent reforms are needed to strengthen oversight and enforcement mechanisms, holding non-compliant operators accountable and safeguarding data privacy for all citizens.

In light of these developments, it is imperative for the government to take decisive action to address the systemic failures within the telecommunications industry.

By enforcing regulations consistently and transparently, the government can restore public confidence and ensure that data privacy remains a priority in Namibia’s digital landscape.

Failure to do so risks further erosion of consumer trust and the perpetuation of harmful data practices.

  • * Paul Rowney is a Namibian digital change strategist, dedicated to driving innovation and transformation in the digital landscape.

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