Friday, July 16, 2010

Phone forms an Illegal Intrusion into Personal Privacy of Fiji Citizens

Phone company defends form

Timoci Vula
Fiji Times - Friday, July 16, 2010
THE country's biggest mobile service provider yesterday defended its decision to include an array of personal questions as part of its Phone Decree SIM registration process.
And Vodafone Fiji also defended its decision to merge its M-PAiSA product registration form into the compulsory Phone Decree registration form.
This as customers complained about the nature of personal information Vodafone was demanding through its Phone Decree registration form.
Vodafone Fiji manager corporate affairs and product manager for M-PAiSA Shailendra Prasad said his company wanted the extra information to better serve customers.
According to Section 3 of the Phone Decree, all SIM card owners were only required to provide their name and birth date, permanent residential address or address in Fiji if a tourist, and a valid photo identification.
And the decree states that in cases where the customer is below 18, a parent or guardian's signature was also required.
The information required in registration forms of other telecommunication service providers were tailored close to Phone Decree requirements.
In Telecom Fiji's case, its registration went one step further than the decree's stipulation, by requiring that customers include a passport photo.
In Vodafone's form, customers complained that information required included the customer's nationality, postal address, occupation or means of livelihood, employer and the employer's address and left hand thumbprint.
The form calls for customers to indicate their religion, language, and hobbies.
Mr Prasad said: "We are asking (for that information) if the customers are happy to provide."
"It helps us serve the customer better because we are able to do more target campaign for the customers," he added.
"It's simple, it's voluntary information."
When asked about the left thumbprint, Mr Prasad said it was for customers who could not sign.
Mr Prasad also defended the decision to merge the decree's compulsory SIM registration with Vodafone's M-PAISA product.
"Because the requirements are very similar, what we have tried to do is to avoid the confusion in the market, we have merged the two forms together," Mr Prasad said.
Thousands of people across Fiji are currently scrambling to meet registration requirements of the Phone Decree, penalties for which come into force on July 21.
The decree states that if a customer provided "false and misleading information" on registration, there would be a $10,000 fine or one year imprisonment or both.
Customers also have to immediately inform their service provider if there was any change in the registration information or they would be subject to $10,000 fine or six months imprisonment.

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