Mobile subscribers in Papua New Guinea could soon be required to register their SIM cards due to what has been described as abuse of telecommunication services, according to Islands Business. Charles Punaha, chief executive of the local telecoms regulator the National Information and Communication Technology Authority (NICTA) was cited as saying: ‘When we opened up the market in 2007, there was no control measure in place. You can just walk down the road and buy a SIM card without (producing) any identification … Unfortunately as we all know, that has resulted in us not having some records of what particular numbers are allocated to individuals or to companies. And related to that, we have seen abuse – people abusing the services when they are sending defamatory messages to other people.’
It is understood that proposed regulations which would require the registration of new SIM cards have been sent to the State Solicitor for approval, with the regulator hoping to have a certificate of necessity allowing it to submit the plans to the cabinet by the end of this month. Commenting on the plans, Mr Punaha added: ‘We are going to make it mandatory that if you want to buy a SIM card, you must have some form of identification … We are in discussions with one of the operators who want to take it further and do a full biometrics. So when you go to buy a SIM card, you’ll have your photograph and fingerprint taken as well.’ Further, the executive noted that three months after the regulation is approved the NICTA will look to impose a requirement that all places where SIM cards are sold would be required to have the machines to register customer ID details and bio data. Meanwhile, it has also been said that customers will be required to re-register their details after 18 months, and if they fail to do so their SIM cards could be cancelled.