Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (Cyta), the owner of Cytamobile-Vodafone, the country’s leading mobile provider in terms of subscribers, is opposing legislation relating to the identification of all pre-paid mobile SIM cards, which was under discussion in the parliamentary Communications Committee, and has appealed to the Ministry of Communications and Works to renew discussions on the topic before adopting its final decision.
According to a company press release, Cyta notes that ‘the decision to register pre-paid SIM cards is not a reactive measure to tackle crime and particularly organised crime.’ The company also points out that its view is supported by a recent report by the GSMA, which found that the identification process for pre-paid SIM cards does not positively affect the tackling of crime. Further, Cyta believes that the adoption of the proposed legislation will result in ‘significant losses’ for the company, estimated at EUR20 million (USD27.24 million) per year. ‘The identification of pre-paid mobile SIM cards will lead to reduction in mobile penetration, disproportionate cost-benefit analysis and the development of black market for illegal or stolen SIM cards’, the operator’s statement said.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, legislation was drafted to enforce identity registration of all pre-paid mobile users in late 2009, but the plan was hampered by numerous obstacles, including conflict with existing personal data laws. The proposed new law provides for a one-year transitional period to give subscribers a chance to register their details, with the aim of curbing illicit or criminal usage of anonymously owned SIM cards.