Accord signed for biometric verification of mobile phone users

Published May 24, 2014
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan witnessing the signing ceremony of agreement between Nadra and telecom companies. — Photo by Online.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan witnessing the signing ceremony of agreement between Nadra and telecom companies. — Photo by Online.

ISLAMABAD: Under an agreement signed here on Friday, the Subscriber identity modules (Sims) of mobile phones would be activated only after biometric verification of customers.

The agreement aimed at stopping the use of Sims in terrorist activities was signed by telecom operators and the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

An official told Dawn that the new procedure for issuance of Sims would come into force by the end of July.

Under the agreement, the telecom companies will buy the required equipment and Nadra will charge Rs10 for verification of each consumer through its database.

During a presentation by Nadra Chairman Imtiaz Tajwar just before the signing of the agreement, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that biometric Sim verification would provide sound technological support to the law-enforcement agencies and help them improve the security situation.

Under the new system, nobody would be able to buy a new Sim without going through the biometric verification process, he said.

The minister asked Nadra and the mobile companies to devise a mechanism for clearing the heavy backlog of unverified Sims.

The Nadra chairman and chief executive officers of Ufone, Mobilink, Zong, Warid and Telenor signed the agreement.

Mr Tajwar informed the minister that issuance of Sims on fake identity cards would not be possible under the agreement finalised in consultation with all the stakeholders.

He said that under the new system, which conformed to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s directives, a citizen would have to go to a retailer, franchise or customer service centre of a cellular operator and provide his or her biometric data for authentication against computerised national identity card details held by Nadra.

A Sim would be activated after the verification process which would take about 15 seconds.

Sources said that initially new Sims would be issued after biometric verification and subsequently millions of unverified Sims would be blocked and reissued under the new procedure.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2014

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