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Indian telcos to tighten SIM card verification

India's mobile companies and retailers have been ordered to physically verify buyers' addresses and tighten security measures, following reports of SIM cards bought under fake names to carry out terrorist activities.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

The Indian police has ordered subscribers' addresses be physically verified by mobile companies or retailers before they are allowed to buy SIM cards.

In a meeting organized by police commissioners Himanshu Roy and Sadanand Date, the police also suggested a number of additional security measures such as setting up CCTVs in shops and recording the voices of subscribers when their SIM cards are activated, The Times of India reported on Wednesday.

This comes after a large number of SIM cards had been bought under fictitious names to carry out terrorist activities in the country, Roy noted.

Mobile operators to aid in tightened checks
In the same meeting, both commissioners also met with representatives of more than a dozen mobile service providers to highlight the government's guidelines on preventing misuse of SIM cards.

An extensive exercise had been carried out in 2010 to identify fictitious SIM card subscribers from the existing database, and the police commissioners identified criminal cases against those who provided fake addresses and sent requests to service providers for deactivation, Roy told the service providers.

"Unfortunately, while the cards were deactivated, the service providers did not initiate criminal proceedings against erring subscribers," he pointed out.

Service providers are now asked to provide a comprehensive list of retailers across the country, and those found to be selling SIM cards to those who use fictitious names will be blacklisted, Roy warned. The list of names will then be sent to all service providers, he said.

However, mobile operators voiced their doubts on the CCTV suggestion, noting economic constraints will make it hard for retailers to install a CCTV network in their shops. "We have 7,000 retailers in the metropolis, and it will be a costly affair," one mobile operator representative told The Times of India.

In September, India's Department of Telecommunications also introduced a set of new regulations which prohibits telcos from providing mobile connectivity for more than three months to any foreigner visiting the country, to prevent the misusage of SIM cards.

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