Telecoms firm weighs fingerprint IDs to curb illegal SIM trade in Saudi

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A Saudi telecoms company is set to propose a fingerprint-ID system for the registration of mobile-phone lines, in an attempt to curb the illegal resale of SIM cards registered under other people’s names, reported Aleqtisadiah.

Saudi Call has partnered with an unnamed French company to produce a study on the logistics of authorities requesting fingerprints as a prerequisite to purchasing SIMs, Ibrahim al-Shaikh, CEO of Saudi Call, told the newspaper.

Fingerprint records are already registered at the Ministry of Interior’s National Information Center in Saudi Arabia, the newspaper said.

The current method used to identify the owners of SIM cards is through registering each line with its owner’s national ID number, for Saudi nationals, or with the residency number for expats, reported the paper.

The Saudi Call study also suggested a computerized coordination between relevant private and public entities, to monitor ownership of mobile lines, as part of the effort to prevent the illegal sale of SIM cards to unidentified individuals.

Saudi Arabia’s telecom regulator and authorities have made several attempts to clampdown on the illegal sale of SIM cards, but not always successfully, reported the Saudi Gazette.

The Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission had set September 28, 2012 as the deadline to register SIM cards with national identity cards. This was one of numerous attempts made by the regulator to overcome the misuse of unidentified SIM cards.

According to Aleqtisadiah, black market dealers even started offering SIM cards with the identity card or residency numbers belonging to their previous owners.

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