Tuesday, August 2, 2016

SC seeks Centre’s reply on verification of cellphone

The Supreme Court today sought the response of the Centre on the action taken by it on the issue of verification of mobile phone subscribers to avoid fake identities which cause a grave risk to national security.

A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur also asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to reply within six weeks to a letter written to them by petitioner NGO Lokniti Foundation giving suggestions on the mobile phone verification issue. The petitioner society had written the letter to DoT and TRAI on August 7, 2014, saying that there was a grave risk to the national security because of lack of verification of mobile phone subscribers and had given suggestions for making systemic improvements to ensure the same.

In its petition before the apex court, the NGO sought directions to DoT and TRAI to ensure 100 per cent verification of mobile phone subscribers with regard to their identity, addresses and that no fake or unverified identity is accepted for subscription of mobile phones.

It also sought that Aadhaar Card or other biometric identification may be made compulsory for verification of the mobile phone users.

It claimed that as of today, around 5.25 crore mobile phone subscribers (about 5 per cent of the total) are unverified, despite the directions given by apex court and instructions issued by DoT itself from time to time to ensure mobile phone subscriber verification.

“Unverified SIM cards pose a serious threat to the country’s security as these are routinely used in criminal and terrorist activities,” the petition said.

The plea sought strict implementation of subscriber verification guidelines and that physical verification be made compulsory in future and physical re-verification of existing subscriber base be conducted in a transparent manner.

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