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Biometric SIM card registration ongoing worldwide, but what about Ghana’s ‘final’ deadline?

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Biometric SIM card registration ongoing worldwide, but what about Ghana’s ‘final’ deadline?
 

Biometric identity registration for mobile phone subscribers continues around the world with soft nudges or more stringent changes. In India the debate is focusing on requirements for identifying phone and internet users in draft legislation, while in Ghana, things have gone quiet.

Ghana final SIM card deadline comes – and goes?

Ghanaians unable to biometrically register their SIM cards in time for the ‘final’ deadline extension (which was not an extension) of 31 October are relaxing their brace position and finding that their phones are still working. So far.

Checks of social media and websites for mobile operators in the country show no updates on the blocks today, 1 November, after final reminders on 31 October.

Online chatter generally shows that people are finding their connections remain active.

Registration is a two-step process and even those that have been linked to a biometric Ghana Card but not completed the next step were also due to be blocked by the end of October.

Meanwhile, Ghanaians without a Ghana Card may not be able to enrol on the voter register if a proposed change to the law comes in limiting the process to the Ghana Card.

Bangladeshis asked to deactivate SIMs beyond personal allowance of 15

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has instructed the country’s mobile users to select and deactivate any SIM cards that take them over their allowance of fifteen, reports the Financial Express.

All SIMs have to be registered against a national ID card (NID), passport, birth certificate or driving licence. BTRC’s Central Biometrics Verification Monitoring Platform has found that 3.12 million excess SIMs have been registered against 724,000 NID cards.

Telcos have now asked their subscribers to limit the number of SIMs they use to fifteen by 15 November. BTRC had previously urged consumers to stick to the limit of fifteen.

Individuals who buy more than 15 for corporate use will not be affected.

Pakistan strengthens SIM registration biometrics as subscriptions fall

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has introduced multiple fingerprint verification to reduce illegal activity around SIM use, reports Business Recorder.

The initiative is intended to tackle illegal sales and resales of SIM cards.

The report notes that mobile subscriber numbers in Pakistan fell for the second consecutive month in September, down 610,000 to 194.14 million. The article cites various reasons for this decline, including mobile operators possibly clearing out dormant cards, the devastating recent floods impacting new sales and also the increased strictness of biometric requirements.

The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has also clamped down on biometric ID cards being issued to non-nationals.

Philippines telco claims it will register subscriber SIMs in 3 months

DITO Telecommunity claims it will biometrically register its remaining subscribers against their SIMs by the end of the year, reports the Manila Bulletin. It has already registered 13 million of its 15 million users, according to the report.

The Philippines’ President Marcos signed a law on 9 October requiring SIM registration where telcos would have to keep a register of subscribers and authorized sellers. ID would be required for new subscriptions.

DITO said it will implement SIM registration via its app at no cost to its users. The telco’s CTO is reported to have said that biometrics data is assumed to be under the government for security and that the major problem facing Philippines telcos is identity validation.

The CTO called on both the ID system and passport system being options for identity validation as this would reduce the burden on companies to create their own database to store biometrics.

Production of the PhilID biometric ID cards has proved so slow that authorities have resorted to paper print outs of the online profile.

India Draft Telecom Bill KYC privacy, anonymity debate

India’s Draft Telecom Bill 2022 states that telecoms will identify their users, including online, and even that “The identity of a person sending a message using telecommunication services shall be available to the user receiving such message, in such form as may be prescribed, unless specified otherwise by the Central Government.”

MediaNama hosted a debate on the issues surrounding the KYC requirements of the Bill. Speakers found that the draft law could infringe basic rights to privacy, free speech and would not hold up to the test of proportionality.

Speakers questioned the need for telecom service providers to conduct KYC, how it would be graded, what access the government would have to messages such as WhatsApp required to be kept and stored in India.

They also questioned the risk to anonymity generally, and also in specific cases such as Central Bank Digital Currency.

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