PTA starts mandatory facial recognition of subscribers to tackle ‘illegal’ SIMs issue

By: News Desk      Published: 03:46 PM, 6 Sep, 2021
PTA starts mandatory facial recognition of subscribers to tackle ‘illegal’ SIMs issue

Preventing the issuance of ‘illegal’ subscriber identity modules (SIMs) has become quite a headache for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and now the telecom regulator has started implementation on the plan under which those purchasing SIMs will have to first get their faces identified, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Monday.

According to the PTA documents, three telecom companies have already been made to pay Rs23.5 million in fine for issuing illegal SIMs.

The documents further tell that despite efforts by the authorities to prevent and block the issuance of such SIMs since 2014, mobile phones’ operators have found new ways of their issuance to the people.

So, in order to put an end to such practices, PTA has made it compulsory for both the seller as well as the purchaser to have their faces scanned besides biometric identification at the time of purchase of a SIM.

PTA officials are of the view that the employees of cellphone companies are involved in the issuance of illegal SIMs

“Silicon thumb impression is used for the purpose. And as always is the case that illegal SIMs are used in incidents of terrorism and other anti-social activities, the Authority has blocked over 526, 000 million such SIMs during the last three years,” the documents reveal.

They further disclose that over 360, 000 national identity cards (NICs) have been blacklisted when it was found out that illegal SIMs were issued against them while 52 franchises associated with this business have also been closed while 532 others have been issued warnings.

Similarly, it has been learned that 21 employees of different franchises have been suspended in connection with this offence.

The documents reveal that the PTA has forwarded 29 such cases to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), while it has imposed fine of Rs100 million on CM Pak and Rs50 million on Ufone.