Following the Supreme Court s directive to curb the use of unverified SIM cards, the telecom department has told the apex court that prepaid mobile subscribers will now be able to recharge their phones only after they prove their identity. Yesterday, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to form a verification system for the mobile subscribers in response to an NGO s petition about the possible misuse of unverified SIM cards. Also Read - This Qualcomm chip bug affects around 30 percent of phones globally: ReportAlso Read - Telecom spectrum auctions begin today: Here's all you need to know
Now, the telecom department has told the court that over 90 percent prepaid SIM card holders will only be allowed after they show a proof of identity based on valid documents which could also include Aadhaar details. As of now, it is unclear how the mechanism would work for those who make e-recharges. But if one is to estimate, for recharges done through mobile wallets or using operators’ mobile apps, a separate column for filing in Aadhaar details or other such identity details could be added along with the usual columns for mobile number, circle of operation, and amount. Also Read - Coronavirus: How to skip the alert message caller tune on Airtel, Jio, Vodafone-Idea
This is in response to the court s directive that a system for verification should be put into place that also incorporates a consumer s Aadhaar details along with the phone number within a year. The verification mechanism would apply for both existing and fresh subscribers, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said. ALSO READ: Supreme Court asks Centre to register ID details of all mobile subscribers
The directive comes in light of the increased use of mobile phones for banking-related activities post demonetization. According to statistics, only less than 10 percent of the Indian phone subscribers hold post-paid SIM cards and it is the easy availability and less stricter process of purchasing prepaid SIM cards that makes keeping track of owners difficult.
NGO Lok Niti Foundation had filed a petition arguing that without a verification system to check user identities and addresses, there is a huge risk of financial frauds and criminal activities. According to the petition, there were about 5.25 crore unverified mobile phone subscribers in the country which could be used for anti-national or criminal activities.
In light of demonetization, a lot of consumers have moved to a cashless mode of lifestyle which includes paying through mobile wallets and digital payments apps. In such a situation, it is highly probable that the mobile number, which is linked to an individual s bank account, can be misused. Other than that, a verification system also addresses the growing concern raised by women about gratuitous phone calls. ALSO READ: Recharge outlets in UP are selling mobile numbers of girls, pricing them based on their looks: Report
Recently, one such incident came to light when it was discovered that mobile recharge shops in Uttar Pradesh were illegally selling SIM cards to consumers under fake identity to contact or harass women clients who visit their shops for recharge. With fake SIM cards or unverified mobile numbers, authorities are unable to track personal details of the individual.