Friday, 19 August, 2022

Illegal sale of SIMs must stop

With a view to reducing crimes committed using mobile phones by tracing criminals and militants easily, the biometric registration of mobile phone numbers was introduced in 2015 amid huge criticism regarding individuals’ data or information protection from different quarters of society. However, a large number of mobile phone-based crimes and the availability of pre-registered SIM cards everywhere call into question the effectiveness of the initiative.

According to a piece of news in this daily, the sale of illegally registered SIM cards continues unabated, often making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to trace the criminals. A large number of pre-activated SIMs – registered biometrically with duplicate fingerprints and national identity cards – are streaming into the market for open sale. In many cases, tracing the SIM led to a person who is not connected to the crime and was unaware that someone was using a SIM registered with his/her name. Law enforcement officials have conceded that the proliferation of fraudulent SIMs has limited the success of the initiative.

The main culprits behind the creation of such a situation are dishonest retailers who get people to provide their fingerprints multiple times under the ruse of technical glitches. Even employees of SIM distribution companies and certain officials of mobile phone operators are involved.

Nevertheless, it is totally unacceptable that pre-registered SIM cards selling goes unchecked even in the capital under the very nose of the law enforcement agencies, which is not only helping criminals hide their identity but also a violation of data or information protection rights of individuals whose NID cards and fingerprints are used illegally to register a SIM card. The culprits are actually exploiting the lack of data protection act since there is no scope to take them to the court for stealing anyone's data.

Therefore, along with introducing a strong data protection act, the government must compel mobile operators not to sell pre-registered SIM cards, since it would not be a difficult task for the operators to control the scam by identifying the unscrupulous dealers who sell pre-register SIM cards. It is true that it has become almost impossible to live without mobile phones nowadays but its mistreatment must be controlled. At the same time, authorities must ensure that an individual’s information would not be misused in any case, let alone registering SIM cards for criminals.