Yangon – The Posts and Telecommunications Department has required mobile phone users to re-register their SIM cards with their IDs, warning that SIMs that are not re-registered by June 30 will be deactivated.
As mobile financial services have developed, the move aims to reduce crime using unregistered SIM cards and encourage phone users to be responsible for the consequences of their phone use, stated the department, which is part of the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
“Some mobile stores have bought hundreds of SIM cards with a single ID card and sell them as pre-registered SIM cards. They are on sale freely on the open market. We want phone users to take responsibility,” said an anonymous department source.
The department is asking users to check whether their SIM cards are registered with the correct information and, if not, re-register online with the network operators or at a store.
In October last year, the ministry fined telecom operators MPT, Telenor, Ooredoo and MyTel US$100,000 (144 million kyats) each for the improper registration of SIM cards and the sale of unregistered SIMs.
The ministry has threatened harsher action against operators if they fail to follow the 2014 Code of Practice for Mobile Customer Registration.
Ko Zaw Zaw Myo Lwin, executive director of Yangon Heartz Media and Business Solution, said: “It is not a difficult issue. Mainly they need to control the sale of SIM cards, for example, restricting the sale of SIM cards to mobile stores. In other countries, you have to show your ID to buy SIM cards. There are many ways the government can control the issue.”
After establishing the code of practice in 2014, the ministry instructed operators about the proper registration of SIMs.
In 2017, it deactivated around 6.5 million unregistered cards. At the time, there was no limit on how many times a citizenship ID, passport or driving license could be used to register a new SIM.
In April 2019, the ministry set a limit of two cards per ID.
Ko Zaw Zaw Myo said people should be allowed to buy more than two SIMs if they can take responsibility for their use.
“Operators want to run businesses. In fact, it only depends on how the regulator handles it. The government needs to support the regulator – the Posts and Telecommunications Department – to be more capable,” he said.
The department said there were more than 80 million active SIMs and 28.2 million of them were not properly registered, meaning the same ID cards were used for their registration.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko
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