Following through on her insistence that the Bangladeshi government “will be tough on the issue,” State Minister for Telecom Tarana Halim has announced that mobile users in the country who haven’t registered their SIM cards will face disconnection on May 1st.
It will only last a few hours, as it’s meant to serve as a warning: When service returns, users will be prompted with a message noting that they must register their biometrics to be assured that that can continue to use their SIM cards. At some point following that, which hasn’t yet been specified, the SIM cards of unregistered users will be permanently disconnected.
The threats are intended to ensure the success of a major government effort, undertaken in collaboration with Bangladeshi telecoms, to connect mobile SIMs to users’ biometric data. The project’s aim is to reduce crime by making it difficult, if not impossible, for individuals to use mobile devices under assumed identities, and according to BTRC, Bangladesh’s telecom regulator, the re-registrations of existing mobile subscribers have increased since the country’s High Court dismissed a legal challenge to the project last week.
The BTRC says that so far, roughly 63.5 million SIMs have been re-registered; meanwhile, the country has an estimated 130 million in total, so it will be interesting to see how many register before – and after – May 1st.
April 20, 2016 – by Alex Perala