SIMs data currently secure at Cellular mobile Operators (CMOs)’ level is to be shifted to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for authentication and verification, official documents revealed. Admitting that grey SIMs are available in the market, PTA has stated that the cases related to illegal issuance of SIMs against thumb/finger impression of innocent /ignorant people/villagers enticing them against meager incentives have been reported and all such cases are referred to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). SIMs Data at CMOs Shifted to PTA Halting Distribution of Gray SIMS.
So far 10 cases of misuse of Biometric Verification System (BVS) have been reported to FIA with no forthcoming response/results, maintained in 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.
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 – For the purpose a Data Center will be established- to be equipped with resources including manpower (10 – 12 persons).
Distribution of Gray SIMS to be Reduced Through Two Factor Authentication Method
In 2014, SIM sale through biometric was implemented. SIMs are activated after online verification of biometrics (thumb / finger impressions). Fully automated SIM sale process, documentation is electronic, sale channels are 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 was blocked. Still grey SIMs in the market is available.
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 of before 60 days (MSP) of issuance. 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 misuse of BVS was imposed in parallel with referring all misuse cases to FlA. The penalty 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 Rs0.742 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