— In line with the directive of the Saudi telecom regulator, Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), to end the practice of sale of SIM cards without acquiring customer identification, the Riyadh governorate has warned of punitive measures against violators.
Officials from the permanent committee to combat cyber crimes at the governorate have started placing warning notices on doors of mobile phone sales outlets in the capital city. Four punitive measures have been cited against violators of the regulations. These included shutting down of shops, deportation of foreign salesmen, seizure of mobile SIM and prepaid cards, and referring the case to police, as reported in Al-Watan newspaper.
The governorate has clearly directed mobile phone shops to strictly adhere to the directive and to not sell SIM cards to any customer without demanding the required identification.
Muhammad Harazi, a salesman at a mobile shop in Al-Mursalat district in north Riyadh, confirmed that the governorate officials have placed stickers on all shops in the area since the beginning of last week.
“We started stopping sales of SIM cards and prepaid cards to nameless customers so as to avoid penal action and legal complications,” he said. This situation has triggered an increase of up to 100 percent in the price of SIM cards of some telecom companies.
Abdullah Al-Otaibi, a citizen, said that the telecom regulator’s new directive would help preventing misuse of SIM cards by anonymous persons from making nuisance calls that annoy many families, and criminals from committing crimes. “There are reports that several SIM cards of workers, companies and firms end up in the custody of anonymous persons and there is every possibility for their misuse. CITC’s new directive would help put an end to this practice,” he said.
Abdullah Al-Darrab, CITC Governor, recently reiterated that the commission is firm in enforcing its decision that the user’s ID number, together with a prepaid card number, is a must to refill and use a SIM card. “We are still committed to implementing the decision. Telecommunications companies operating in the Kingdom had asked for a time period to make the necessary changes in their system to support the regulation,” he said.
In the new system, a consumer should enter his ID or Iqama number immediately after entering the prepaid card number to recharge the SIM card. It would not be possible to recharge the SIM card without entering the ID number.
The CITC chief said that anonymous SIM cards were posing a severe threat to the security of the nation and the society as well. Sources in the telecom industry said the telecom companies would implement the CITC directive in phases. — SG