Government Issues Final Deadline To Register SIM Card Users

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The government has set a new deadline for mobile network operators to have all their SIM cards properly registered.

Authorities say they need identities registered in order to catch criminals. KT/Chor Sokunthea

July 1 will be the last day telecommunications companies in the Kingdom will have to ensure all their SIM card users are registered, according to a recent statement issued by the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC).

The statement also said this will be the last extension of the deadline.

In 2015, the TRC and the General Department of National Police issued their first deadline for operators to register all their users. The deadline has been extended multiple times since then, following requests from the country’s three biggest mobile operators – Viettel, Cellcard and Smart Axiata – to be given more time to comply with the requirement.

SIM card dealers are being asked to make copies of clients’ national identity cards, passports or any other valid identity document before activating the SIM card, a move authorities believe will prevent social disorder, crime and terrorism as well as enhance protection for customers.

TRC’s spokesman Im Vutha told Khmer Times yesterday that selling SIM cards without securing a copy of the client’s identity document was against the law.

He added, however, that there is still little compliance with this requirement, as mobile network operators have found “loopholes” that allowed them to keep selling SIM cards without registering the purchaser.

“Due to increasing competition in the sector, some companies and dealers feel the need to disobey the law and sell cards without registering the client.

“Now, we are issuing an ultimatum: July 1 is the last deadline,” Mr Vutha said.

“After July 1, mobile operators that choose to keep operating illegally will face the full force of the law,” he said, although he failed go into details as to what the legal punishment might entail.

Deputy National Police Commissioner Chhay Sinarith said the requirement to obtain clients’ personal information aims to curb criminal activity in the Kingdom.

“If we do not demand that users register their phone numbers, they can engage in criminal activity more easily because we are not able to track them down since we do not have their personal information,” he said, explaining that the most common crimes associated with unregistered SIM car users are extortion and financial schemes.

“They dare to commit these crimes because they think we cannot find them since they are not registered.”

Mr Sinarith noted that people who fail to register by July 1 will have their SIM cards de-activated.

A statement from Smart Axiata yesterday confirmed they had received TRC’s notification, and said they are asking prepaid customers to check their profiles and register or update their information if they haven’t done so already. It says customers can do so online or by visiting a Smart outlet.

The statement said Smart continues to ramp up initiatives and processes in support of the government’s effort to have all SIM cards in the country registered.

“Among other initiatives, we are proactively digitising our dealer touch points to enforce mandatory SIM registration using our Dealer App and providing incentives to encourage SIM registration.

“We are encouraging proactive SIM registration through our customer service channels and by putting in place tighter compliance measures,” the statement said.

Metfone’s vice general director Nhong Dinthan told reporters earlier this month that his company is already complying with the requirement.

“We are in full compliance with the law,” Mr Dinthan said. “We have invited customers that are not registered to come and register. If they fail to do so, we will delete their numbers.”

“We have also issued strict guidelines to dealers, branches and showrooms to ensure they secure customer’s information before they activate the SIM cards,” Mr Dinthan added, noting that the company has installed a new system that makes it impossible for dealers to activate cards without having first uploaded the client’s personal information.

According to TRC’s Mr Vutha, there are 18.57 million mobile connections in Cambodia. The country has 10.7 million mobile phones with access to the internet and 6.8 million active Facebook accounts.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.