Bangladesh tightens cellphone registration to curb crime
Last Updated: Thursday, March 11, 2010, 20:39
Dhaka: In an effort to curb misuse of cellphones by criminals, the Bangladesh government has barred youngsters under-18 from buying mobile SIM cards.

Moreover, people above 18 years of age will have to submit their national identity numbers to the authorities to subscribe to mobile service.

"The mobile phone operators have been asked not to sell SIM to people under 18 years of age. Each subscriber will now will also need the national identity card and an introducer for buying a SIM card from any mobile phone operator," a home ministry spokesman said.

He added that restrictions have also been slapped on getting authorised certificates for selling the cards and the vendors must have secondary school certificates and must go through police verification.

The restriction comes days after police said teenagers appeared to be dominating Dhaka's underworld, as they prepared a list of 559 young gangsters, prompting authorities to launch a campaign to uproot the gangs.

The directives were issued yesterday at a meeting with the Home Affairs minister, Sahara Khatun, after a 10-member committee formed for looking into curbing of cellphone crimes submitted its reports.

"SIM cards are now so available that you will get one even from a betel leaf seller. The extortionists and criminals are using SIM cards which are not properly registered," Home Minister Sahara Khatun told reporters after the meeting.

The meeting was informed that a total of 12 lakh unregistered SIM and RUIM cards have so far been blocked.

There had been an increase in extortion demands and threats to high-profile people over cellphones. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her nephew, ruling Awami League lawmaker Fazle Noor Taposh had also recently received threats over cellphones, the Daily Star reported.

Bangladesh's total telephone users stood around 56 million at the end of January 2010 with six mobile phone operators connecting 53.83 million customers and 13 landline operators connecting 1.69 million customers.


First Published: Thursday, March 11, 2010, 20:39

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