In order to curb the proliferation of illegal sales of SIM cards, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has presented draft amendments to the PECA Act 2016 to the Ministry of IT and Telecom. The telecom authority suggests elevating the status of the illegal sale of SIMs to a cognizable and non-bailable offense, aiming to strengthen measures against unauthorized SIM issuance in the country.
Strategic Measures to Combat Illegal Sale of SIMs
The PTA has been actively engaged in fortifying its arsenal against the illicit sale of SIM cards. The ongoing initiative involves replacing Non-Live Finger Detection devices with Live Finger Detection devices, with 95 percent implementation achieved. This transition aims to eliminate the use of silicon thumbs in the issuance process, enhancing the security and authenticity of SIM card registration.
In its pursuit of eradicating unauthorized SIM cards, the PTA reports a substantial impact, blocking a staggering 850,000 illegally issued SIM cards in 2023. The authority has not hesitated to take punitive actions, terminating approximately 8,500 retailers and 100 franchisees for involvement in the illicit issuance of SIM cards and violation of company policies. Additionally, joint efforts with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) have resulted in 13 raids against illegal SIM issuance, leading to the arrest of 19 individuals.
Heavy Fines and Stricter Protocols
PTA has wielded its authority by imposing significant fines on Cellular Mobile Companies (CMOs) involved in the unauthorized sale of SIMs. Zong, Ufone, and Telenor have faced fines of Rs. 100 million, Rs. 70 million, and Rs. 21 million, respectively. To enhance transparency, the PTA has directed CMOs to implement SIM Stock Binding at the Franchisee level, ensuring a more secure and accountable SIM issuance process. Additionally, the ongoing implementation of three-factor authentication, including login/password, OTP, and biometric verification of the seller, is underway across all CMOs, further fortifying the regulatory framework surrounding SIM card issuance.