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Nigeria: 73 million mobile phones have been blocked in security operation

Nigeria blocks 73 million mobile phones in security clampdown. Nigeria is among dozens of African countries including Ghana, Egypt and Kenya with SIM registration laws that authorities say are necessary for security purposes, but digital rights experts say increase surveillance and hurts privacy.

Nigeria has been rolling out 11-digit electronic national identity cards for almost a decade, which record an individual’s personal and biometric data, including fingerprints and photo. The National Identity Number (NIN) is required to open a bank account, apply for a driver’s license, vote, get health insurance, and file tax returns.

In 2020, Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator said every active mobile phone number must be linked to the user’s NIN. It repeatedly extended the deadline until March 31 this year. Millions of Nigerians have not registered their SIM cards, for reasons ranging from concerns over privacy to problems reaching registration centres or not having a NIN.

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