A parliamentary panel has proposed to completely ban pre-paid SIMs which is the big source for terror activities in the country. The National Assembly Select Committee that met with Khawaja Sohail Mansoor in the Parliament house expressed its concerns over the method of issuing SIMs and said that more than fifty percent crimes in the country had been committed successfully because of prepaid SIMs. The committee said that the basic responsibility lies on the telecom operators who sold millions of SIMs without adopting any proper system or suitable verification methods.

Anusha Rehman said that the issuance of SIMs without a proper system had increased cybercrimes; therefore prepaid SIMs should be completely banned in the county. She suggested that a Biometric system should be adopted before the issuance of SIMs, adding that post-paid SIMs would also be helpful in removing illegal exchange from the country.

FIA officials said that voter lists were a big source of ID theft, because identifications of the common man could be viewed from these lists and later used to get multiple SIMs. FIA officials further said that after research conducted by FIA it had been learnt that millions of mobile phones in the country had the same IEMI number and had been smuggled in the country from abroad. They said that these cell phones were not regulated and had been transported through grey markets.

The committee focused IT officials to include the issuance of SIMs in a proposed bill for the prevention of cybercrimes in the country.
During the meeting, FIA and the Ministry of Law expressed concerns over the newly drafted ‘Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2012’. FIA said that during its meeting with the IT Ministry, they had proposed to remove certain clauses but these had not been changed or removed.

Afaq Ahmed from Pakistan Software Houses Association (PASHA) said that there were technical differences between FIA and PASHA because FIA wanted complete control and authority to arrest criminals. Legislators said that the purpose of this draft was not to pick up individuals but to remove cyber crimes from the country.

Telecom industry is not satisfied with this policy; rather they are furious and tired of these statements by political leadership. Officials of cellular companies now even pretend such statements instead of taking them seriously. An official of Telecom Company said that if government is serious about illegal SIMs then they should start abolishing the Chinese handsets, which come with same IMEI numbers. He said that there is one Chinese Brand which heavily advertises on TV has one single IMEI for its entire handset stock.

Official said that infrastructure of telecom companies has been upgraded and tracking of SIMs used by the criminals and mobile sets with IMEI numbers can be traced with this up-gradation of infrastructure. However, cellular companies can’t track anything when thousands of handsets with same IMEI numbers come into play.

Telecom officials said they are open to work with the government to completely eliminate the issue of illegal SIMs, however, what government is demanding here (for a ban on prepaid SIMs) doesn’t make any sense.

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