Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar has urged the Home Affairs Ministry to make it mandatory to have biometric identification presented, such as fingerprints, for the registration of new SIM cards, reports The Times of India last Friday.
The main reason is obviously for the interest in national security, following the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Current standard procedure is physical verification of a SIM card application, where the telco visits the registered address--implemented as another security measure just six months ago. Prior to that, anyone could easily register a SIM card with basic photo ID and have it activated within hours.
However, due to stiff competition amongst the Indian telecom operators and lax enforcement of rules, distributors have reportedly been making bulk sales of SIM cards to criminals and fraudsters. This suggests a larger scandal involving telecom employees not following proper protocol and procedure, while either simply being ignorant or perhaps being bribed, which unfortunately is often the case in India.
Hence, the Delhi Police commissioner has openly come out, addressing the situation with a simple mechanism that can fix situation: biometric identification. The Indian government's ambitious Aadhaar biometric identification program is currently underway across India, and is still just in the registration phase. Applicants can expect to receive their new biometric cards in about six months, and even then, this is not mandatory.
While eventually a biometric solution could be implemented for SIM card registration, the largest group of potential consumers who would lose out and have a very difficult, if next to impossible time, registering a SIM card are foreigners in India. Without the Aadhaar biometric card or another form of accepted and approved biometric identification, they might not be allowed to register SIM cards, even with legit reasons.
Of course, that being said, there's always the one method which works without fail when having to register a SIM card, even with the new physical verification procedure. Simply get a friend or relative to register a SIM card on their behalf for you, plain and simple. There are no rules or regulations limiting how many registered SIM cards one person can have, which also increases the likelihood of this method also being exploited for criminal and illegal activities. Then again, if all else fails and someone just needs a SIM card for the all the right reasons, there really is nothing Indian telecom operators or local authorities can do about this registration method. If so, something would have been done by now.