By Arab News
Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission has said that the country’s security agencies would enforce the new regulation requiring all telecommunication subscribers to register their fingerprints.
A CITC source, who preferred anonymity, said that fingerprints would not be required for recharging of airtime. This was a new law related only to identification of all subscribers, including visitors, Gulf citizens and Haj and Umrah pilgrims, he was quoted as saying by local media on Monday.
The CITC decision was announced last year, but implementation was delayed because some mobile service operators in the Kingdom required time to obtain fingerprint registration devices from abroad. The new measure was introduced because the current system was not working, according to reports.
The first phase of the decision will include new customers, and will require that fingerprints be provided on special devices to obtain a SIM card. The devices will be linked to the National Information Center to ensure the identities of SIM owners are accurate.
The decision was based on the Ministry of Interior’s request to ensure information of SIM cardholders are protected, and to prevent people from obtaining mobile phones with fraudulent identification cards.
The CITC had previously put in place strict requirements to obtain pre-paid SIM cards, including a written contract requiring an applicant’s full name, national identity number, nationality, phone number, details about the service requested, date and signature.
Abdur Rahman Al-Mazi, a communications and information technology expert, said that an estimated 18 million subscribers may be lost to companies providing communication services, which would result in loss of earnings.
He said that there were 53 million subscribers in the Kingdom in a population of 30 million. “There were many people with two or more services and others who could not be identified.”