Mobile users in the United Arab Emirates are now required to provide their fingerprint biometrics with Etisalat, the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation.
Notices have been sent out to mobile users asking them to report to Etisalat offices to provide the scans for re-registration of their mobile accounts after renewing their Emirates IDs or residence visas. The fingerprint data is matched to these government identity documents, a product of a Telecommunications Regulatory Authority campaign entitled “My Number, My Identity”.
The campaign is ostensibly aimed at reducing fraud and protecting users’ privacy, but it likely has a broader security element as well. A similar, and indeed pioneering, program in Pakistan was launched directly as a response to a terrorist incident, with the aim of preventing terrorists and criminals from using mobile devices under assumed identities; and other countries have followed suit in the same vein.
Moreover, biometric security appears to be increasingly popular in the oil-rich UAE, whose government has over the past year announced plans for biometric security at airports and even police cars outfitted with biometric identification scanners.
March 16, 2016 – by Alex Perala