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Bangladesh begins biometric mobile phone registration

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Telephones and other mobile devices in Bangladesh using SIM cards which have not been registered with their owners’ biometrics by July 1, 2021 will be given a three-month lifeline given by the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC), and then blocked from the country’s mobile telephone networks.

This follows a move by the BTRC to put in place a National Equipment Identification Registrar (NEIR) database which will require the synchronization of account data and customer biometrics as a prerequisite to enable the devices work, The Daily Star reports.

The data to be collected includes the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of the phone, the MSISDN of the SIM card as well as the biometric information of the user registering the SIM card or device.

Bangladeshi authorities have outlined the process of getting any new devices and SIM cards registered, with their argument being that it will help reduce incidents of illegal importation of telephones, risk of theft and phone cloning, ensure safety of customer information as well as help in the tracking and tracing of any criminal activities carried out with the help of telephones, The Daily Star notes.

According to the BRTC, all users whose handsets will have the ‘illegal’ status after the July 1 deadline, will be sent an alert SMS and a three-month extension period will be allowed them to get their device registered. If after this period, the user is unable to show proof of valid registration of the handset, no SIM card will work on it.

In a different report, BDNews24 says the NEIR database will be used to check the individual’s National ID number and other information on his device to ascertain its legality. The report also mentions that the BRTC had sealed a deal in December with local technology company Synesis IT to put in place the NEIR technology for phone registration.

A similar move in Mexico to get phones registered with biometric information of users in a central biometric database recently suffered a setback as the country’s Supreme Court directed a temporary suspension of the initiative.

About 17 countries around the world, many of them said to be authoritarian regimes, require some form of biometric identification for the procurement of a SIM card or the registration of a mobile phone.

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