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Malaysian Government wants to stop anonymous mobile phone use

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 15 Aug 2005 21:06 User comments (1)

In a world where you can now use a pre-paid mobile phone service and not have to hand over any personal details, the Malaysian government fears that this freedom is being exploited by terrorists to both communicate anonymously and to trigger explosions. For this reason, the government is to put a stop to this freedom and force all pre-paid users to register their details with phone companies while buying a pre-paid sim card.
This new requirement will come into effect in Malaysia from the end of the year. Existing customers will not be able to keep their anonymity either as they will be forced to register when they go to buy credit for their phones. 14 million out of Malaysia's 16 million mobile phone users, use pre-paid services instead of subscription-based "bill phones". As well as fearing terrorists, the Malaysian government cites prank SMS text messages as another reason.

In the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, it used to be a common practice to take the heads of rival village warriors as trophies. Even today the word "head-hunter" sparks fear in many villages there. In 2002, SMS text messages caused villagers to flee their homes as the text messages warned of head-hunters that were in the area. Also in January 2005, a month after the Tsunami Disaster in Asia, thousands of people fled their homes around Semporna, after fake text messages warned of another wave.

What makes these text messages worse is the fact that they were used as a way for thieves to steal from empty abandoned houses, according to Malaysian authorities. Now the Malaysian Government wants buyers of new phones or sim cards to show identity cards or passports. The task will be quite a challenge as many people there just live in shacks in the jungle near to factories or on building sites. "A big number of prepaid users are foreign workers, and they do not have fixed addresses," said Communications minister Lim Keng Yaik.

BBC News

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1 user comment

121.8.2005 22:44

Sim-Card registration is also happening in Thailand.

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