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Another nation considers requiring biometrics for SIM cards

Another nation considers requiring biometrics for SIM cards
 

Another nation is considering adding biometrics to phone SIM card registrations, hoping to stem fraud.

South Africa’s telecom regulator is advising the government to require personal biometric identifiers be included in SIM card records, removing anonymity when criminals use phones with extra-legal intentions.

The regulation would require data only be used for authenticating who should possess a given phone, according to BusinessTech.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) said in November 2021 that SIM-swaps in digital banking fraud in the country had increased by 91 percent, year over year. Under the proposal, the biometric registry would be used to authenticate the identity of subscribers requesting a SIM swap.

Mexico generated headlines last year when its government made mobile phone registration with biometrics mandatory, before it was halted by the country’s Supreme Court. Officials justify the requirement by pointing to the unremittently brutal violence drug cartels and other criminal gangs participate in the country.

In fact, many of the countries legislating similar restrictions fight endemic terrorism and crime: including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Those who protest the measures say they are authoritarian in nature. Also among the countries with SIM laws are China, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Venezuela. The Philippines government is debating the issue.

North Korea reportedly is considering SIM laws even though every inch of all telecommunication infrastructure is government owned and operated.

Requirements vary, with some nationals requiring both facial and fingerprint scans; others record only fingerprint biometrics.

In several instances, including Tanzania and Pakistan, personal identifiers are not protected by data protection laws.

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