Customer registration

Customer registration by ISPs, VoIP providers and other electronic communications service (ECS) providers is a contentious area. As is the case with the mobile network providers under section 40 of RICA, ECS providers are currently required  to collect, verify and retain specified information.

However, ECS providers by definition provide virtual services which do not necessarily involve any physical interaction with their customers and there is therefore no natural opportunity for performing in-person verification. This is in contrast to the mobile network providers where the technology requires physical interaction between the provider (or its representatives / agents) and its customer for the purpose of obtaining a SIM card.

The provisions of section 39 of RICA are therefore in general poorly observed by ECS providers and there are indications that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will review the customer registration framework during 2o11.

The Department will also amend section 39 during the first half of 2011 in order to bring it into line with section 40 in allowing service providers to retain electronic copies of documentation rather than paper-based copies.

Customer registration requirements under section 39 can be summarised as follows:

For customers who are individuals the ECS provider must obtain in respect of that customer:

1. His or her name, identity number residential and postal or business address and proof thereof; and

2. A certified copy of his or her identity document in which his or her name, photograph and identity number appear.

The provider must verify the photo, full names and identity number against the identity document. By implication this must be done when the customer is in the presence of a representative or agent of the provider. This process is referred to as “in-person verification”.

For customers which are juristic persons the provider must obtain:

1. The name, identity number, residential and postal or business address of the representative of the juristic person; and

2. The name of the juristic person, its business address and registration number;

3. A certified copy of the identity document of the representative, in which his or her name, photograph and identity number appear; and

4. A certified photocopy of the business letterhead.

The provider must verify the photo, full names and identity number of the representative against his or her identity document. Again in-person verification must be performed. The provider must also verify the juristic person’s name and registration number against the business letterhead.

All certified copies of documents collected during the customer registration must be retained indefinitely by the provider.

Any attempt to present falsified documents must be reported to the South African Police Services.