The Bangladeshi High Court yesterday (1 April 2014) ordered the immediate deactivation of all unregistered mobile SIM cards, calling on the chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the home secretary, the telecoms secretary and the CEOs of mobile operators GrameenPhone, Banglalink, Teletalk, Airtel Bangladesh, Robi Axiata and Citycell to implement the order following a petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer JR Khan Robin, reports BDNews24. The petition came attached to a report published earlier this month by national daily newspaper Janakantha which claimed that there remained over seven million unregistered active SIM cards in the market of some 110 million mobile subscribers, despite legislation which bans the sale of SIMs without registering their owner’s identity. The petition said that unregistered SIMs continue to be sold by mobile top-up vendors across Bangladesh, losing the government revenue, while enabling the anonymous usage of SIMs for criminal activities. The BTRC has recently taken extra steps to enforce the law on unregistered SIMs, by banning the sale of pre-activated SIM cards and asking network operators to withhold SIM activation for 72 hours while verifying the buyers’ registration information during that time. The High Court queried why the CEOs of mobile network operators should not be held responsible for the sale of unregistered SIM cards through third-party dealers or otherwise.
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