In a significant move aimed at safeguarding mobile subscribers from cyberfrauds and optimizing the delivery of government-sponsored economic benefits, the Department of Telecommunications is in the final stages of implementing a new initiative that will allocate a unique customer ID to mobile users.
The forthcoming mobile customer ID system will not only simplify the tracking of SIM cards under a single ID but also record the locations where users acquired their SIM cards, as reported by Financial Express. Furthermore, it will facilitate the seamless identification of individuals who own these SIM cards, among other functionalities.
This unique customer ID will serve as a comprehensive identification point for all aspects related to both primary and supplementary phone connections. This innovative concept shares similarities with the 14-digit Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Account (ABHA) health ID, which is linked to the Aadhaar Card. ABHA facilitates easy access to medical records and provides medical professionals, such as doctors and insurers, with instantaneous access to critical medical information.
This initiative will also serve as a preventive measure against the issuance of SIM cards to a single customer exceeding the permissible limit of nine. Currently, violations of this limit are only identified when the telecom department in various licensed service areas (LSAs) conducts audits using AI-based facial recognition technology.
Over the past six months, the Department of Telecommunications has disconnected more than 6.4 million fraudulent phone connections with the assistance of facial recognition technology, demonstrating the government’s commitment to enhancing cybersecurity and protecting mobile subscribers.
To address the concern of verifying the actual users of SIM cards, the government is considering requiring subscribers to declare, at the time of obtaining a SIM card, who within their family will use the connection. This measure is seen as a way to help telecom companies comply with the verifiable parental consent requirement in cases involving children’s data under data protection laws.
Government officials have emphasized that the Department of Telecommunications is actively exploring strategies to prevent the issuance of fraudulent connections. One such approach is to monitor connections through a unique consumer ID, which will be issued at the time a consumer applies for a connection.
Additionally, the plan includes categorizing these consumer IDs based on various demographics, including age, gender, marital status, income, education, and employment. The usage patterns of SIM cards associated with each consumer ID will be analyzed, enabling the government to issue directives to block specific IDs and associated SIM cards if any suspicious activity is detected.
In recent times, telecom companies have raised concerns regarding the challenges of obtaining verifiable parental consent for processing children’s data in accordance with the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act. One of the key challenges they face is distinguishing between minor and adult consumers on their networks, as well as establishing a framework for obtaining consent from parents.
The government has recently introduced new regulations that will require telecom companies to register SIM card sellers and conduct thorough KYC (Know Your Customer) checks before onboarding them into the system. These rules will become effective from December 1.