The way it is in our country right now, a customer ought to produce documents to verify his identity, address, among other details, to buy a SIM card. Needless to add, this is done to ensure that the buyer is a legit customer with genuine needs, and not someone whose actions could be a threat to the nation’s security. Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, though, opines that owing to the rising competition in the telecom space among service providers, the task of physically verifying a SIM applicant has grown lax. This, he says, has led to distributors making bulk sales of SIM cards, thereby leaving a gaping hole in the nation’s security, reports The Economic Times.
Stricter check proposed (Image credit: Getty Images)
On his part, Kumar has written to the home affairs ministry proposing that they make it compulsory for mobile service providers to issue SIM cards to applicants only after they’ve been provided with subscribers’ thumb impressions or any other biometric feature. This is similar to the method of issuing “Aadhar” cards in the country. In his letter, Kumar also cited recent instances, wherein a retailer had sold 490 SIM cards against forged IDs. He has even requested that telecom bodies like the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) levy heavy penalties and put in stricter control.
Late last year, following a high-level meeting convened by Joint Commissioners Himanshu Roy and Sadanand Date, it was decided that the address of a subscriber be verified in person before they are sold a SIM card.
Roy noted that several SIM cards were being purchased under fake names to carry out terrorist activities in the country. Mobile service providers too were asked to follow the Telecom Ministry's guidelines, dated August 9, 2012. At the meeting, which was attended by representatives of several mobile service providers, telcos were asked to adhere to the government guidelines to prevent SIM card misuse.
Other suggestions brought up in the meeting included additional security measures like installing CCTVs in shops and recording subscribers when their SIM cards were activated. As for the suggestion of installing CCTVs inside shops, representatives shared that the lack of finance would make it difficult for most of them to install one in their shops. One representative said, "We have 7,000 retailers in the metropolis, and it will be a very costly affair."