The government yesterday launched biometric SIM registration process to ensure correct identification of all mobile subscribers, curb cybercrimes and strengthen overall security.
It also plans to get mobile phone users to start registering their handsets with the authorities concerned as soon as February.
Tarana Halim, state minister for telecom, said that for the government to be able to have an overall security solution, people would have to complete biometric registration of their SIM cards and enlist their handsets in a government database.
Sources claimed that Tarana had a meeting with Sajeeb Wazed Joy, prime minister’s information and communication technology affairs adviser, on Tuesday where it was decided that registrations of IMEI numbers of handsets would be required to have mobile phone services in Bangladesh.
No one can now buy a SIM without providing fingerprints at the customer care centres of carriers, said Tarana while launching the SIM registration system at Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) office.
The government plans to complete biometric SIM registration within the next four months, she said. She sought cooperation from people, carriers, and the BTRC to execute the plans smoothly.
Bangladesh is the second country to initiate human-body based identification to ensure correct identities of mobile phone users and curb crimes committed with mobile devices.
All six carriers have executed pilot projects of biometric registrations, and installed required devices connected to the national identity card database of the Election Commission.
The month-long pilots ended on December 15, and carriers found many mismatches between the subscribers' fingerprints taken at their customer centres and those stored in the NID database.
Carriers have installed 81,500 fingerprint-recording devices collectively, which would be increased to over one lakh soon, officials said.
"The government has decided to allow a person to register 20 SIM cards against a single national identity card," Halim said.
For now, those without NID’s could also buy SIMs, but only if they get the cards within six months, BTRC officials said. They will have to give their fingerprints at the time of buying though, they said.
Currently, there are 13.19 crore active SIMs in Bangladesh, and each of those will be checked, and if needed, re-registered with accurate information.
BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood urged carriers to remind customers to complete registration in time. He said the process puts Bangladesh on the same level as that of developed countries in ensuring correct identification of mobile users.