The government minister overseeing Bangladesh’s major project to get mobile network operators to register the biometrics of all users is taking a firm tone as she seeks to ensure it unfolds as planned. Speaking to reporters, State Minister for Telecom Tarana Halim demanded greater cooperation from MNOs.
Minister Halim said she has received about 300 reports through social media of MNOs not fully cooperating in the registration of subscribers’ biometrics, and as a result she has invited the heads of those companies for a meeting later this week to discuss the issue. She affirmed that the government intends to see all 133 million active SIMs registered, and that the project “is of high priority, and we will be tough on the issue.” She also pointed out that the project will ultimately see ‘illegal’ mobile devices—smuggled or counterfeit products—fall into disuse.
The country’s MNOs started registering subscribers’ biometric data last fall, heeding government requirements aimed at reducing the use of fraudulently registered mobile devices by criminals and potential terrorists. It’s a measure similar to that imposed in Pakistan in response to the Peshawar terror attack of 2014, and as in that country’s case, it seems that MNOs are struggling to meet the government’s demands.
But the Bangladeshi project will also go further, with the government aiming to eventually link biometric SIM identification to access to smart city services, and even to tracking citizens’ entries and departures at airports.
January 27, 2016 – by Alex Perala