Department of Telecom, Government of India, has proposed a move that will make it mandatory to take fingerprint scan before issuing a new SIM card (connection) to the users.
According to Economic Times report, this has been proposed as despite all effort, retailers selling SIM cards are not taking user verification seriously and even operators are not forcing them to do so. With fingerprint scan, at least government will have biometric data to trace people.
However the proposal is going to be met by stiff resistance from operators for at least two reasons. The first reason being that currently SIM cards are sold by small retailers, equipping all of them will be a costly affair and might not be feasible. Secondly, lack of data connectivity in small villages which will be required to send the fingerprint to data to central server. If few centers are created for fingerprint scan it will deter many people from getting new connections slowing down the growth of the industry which is already battling with slow growth.
In terms of security measure however it really looks like a good option as the government has proposed that this new database be linked with the National Intelligence Grid NATGRID for keeping those data at one place from national security point of view.
According to ET, the matter was recently also raised by the Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, who on May 15 wrote to the home ministry, pitching for introducing a system of getting biometric details of subscribers before issuing SIM cards to them.
Kumar had reportedly complained that the cut-throat competition among the mobile service providers had led to laxity in carrying out the prescribed physical verification of an applicant. He pointed out that the distributors were making bulk sale of SIM cards to criminals which have serious implications for national security.
Citing a recent case in which the police had caught an unauthorised retailer who had sold 490 SIM cards on the basis of forged IDs. The commissioner had pointed that no worthwhile verification was being made due to illegal nexus of distributors and employees of the service providers.
Kumar also suggested that the DoT and TRAI should be requested to impose heavy penalties and exercise stricter control.
At present, pre-activated SIM cards attract a penalty of Rs 50,000 each in addition to an immediate disconnection of the mobile service.