High Court Questions Legality Of Biometric SIM Registration

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The High Court today questioned the legality of biometric registration for purchase of mobile operators’ SIM cards.

The court issued a rule seeking an explanation within a week as to why collecting citizen’s information through biometric registration of mobile phone SIMs should not be declared illegal.

The bench of Justice Syed Mohammad Dastagir Husain and Justice AKM Shahidul Huq issued the rule after hearing a writ petition filed by a Supreme Court lawyer SM Enamul Huq on March 9.

Citing from the petition, Enamul’s lawyer Muktadir Rahman told The Daily Star the petition challenged the legality of biometric SIM registration as collecting such private info of citizens by the mobile companies is not in the best interest of the people.

Muktadir Rahman said that BTRC had released a circular on December 13, 2015 ordering six telecom operators to start the biometric SIM registration process. He also said that according to article 43 of the constitution, ‘Every citizen shall have the right, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of the security of the State, public order, public morality or public health –
(a) to be secured in his home against entry, search and seizure; and

(b) to the privacy of his correspondence and other means of communication.’

According to Muktadir Rahman, the SIM registration process does not fall within The Telecommunication Regulation Act of 2001. Hence, the whole process is not legal, he added.

The owners of five mobile operators excluding Teletalk Bangladesh Ltd are foreigners, so the information may be leaked out from them which can incur damage to the people and the country.

Collecting such information through biometric SIM registration should be scrapped, he added.

Law secretary, Election Commission, post and telecommunication secretary, BTRC chairman and chief executives officers of Grameenphone, Robi Axiata Ltd, Airtel Bangladesh Ltd, Teletalk Bangladesh Ltd, and Pacific Bangladesh Ltd (Citycell), Orascom Bangladesh Ltd have made respondents to the rule.

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