SIMs data, currently processed at Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs)’ level, is to be shifted to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for authentication and verification according to official documents.
Admitting that grey SIMs are available in the market, PTA has stated that cases of illegal issuance of SIMs against biometric data of people, who are enticed with meager incentives, have been reported and all such cases have been referred to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
So far, 10 cases of misuse of Biometric Verification System (BVS) have been reported to FIA with no forthcoming response or results, said the PTA documents.
PTA is reviewing SIM sale and authentication process with a view to minimize and eventually eliminate misuse of BVS.
Currently, the whole process is being reviewed in consultation with all stakeholders.
Here’s what we expect:
- Dual factor authentication process is proposed to be implemented.
- Outline and modalities are expected to be finalized in 6 to 8 weeks time.
- Data currently secure at CMOs’ level is to be shifted at PTA’s level for authentication and verification.
- Data/SlM integrity will be monitored and stored at PTA
- A Data Center will be established and will be equipped with resources including a staff of 10-12 people
In 2014, SIM sale through biometric was implemented. SIMs were activated after the online verification of biometrics (thumb / finger impressions). The sale process for SIMs was fully automated, documentation was made electronic and sales channels were uniquely identifiable.
In 2015, PTA carried out re-verification of SIMs issued prior to BVS era from Jan to May 2019. A total of 114.9 million SIMs were verified whereas 98.3 million SIMs were blocked. Still, grey SIMs were available in the market.
In order to ensure that BVS is not misused, a buffer of 8 hours on each CNIC has been enforced between successive BVS transactions for all activities i.e. new sale, duplicate SIM, change of ownership and MNP.
Unauthorized movement of BVS devices will be penalized by respective CMOs. No SIM can be disowned before 60 days (MSP) of issuance, read the documents. In order to eliminate misuse of biometric verification through fake fingers, current BVS devices are being replaced with Live Finger Detect (LFO) devices in a phased manner.
Penalty Matrix upon the misuse of BVS was imposed in parallel with referring all misuse cases to FlA.
The penalties imposed so far include:
- 16 franchises — warning with penalty of Rs 1.68 million
- 38 franchises – warning issued
- 80 retailers terminated
- 5 franchises terminated
- 19 franchises penalized
- 501 retailers terminated
- 2 franchises terminated
- 60 franchises – warning with penalty of Rs. 0.742 million
- 6 franchises terminated
- 98 franchises — strict waning letters with penalty of Rs. 1.275 million
- 2 franchise – final warning with penalty or Rs. 0.15 million
- 302 retailers terminated