In a significant move to curb cyber fraud, the government today announced discontinuing of buying of SIM cards in bulk and made police verification mandatory for each and every SIM card dealer.
Union Minister for Communications, and Electronics & IT Ashwini Vaishnaw during a press conference on Thursday said, “On the occasion of World Telecom Day in May, three customer-focused reforms were released [Central Equipment Identity Register, Know Your Mobile and ASTR]. Now, in addition to that, we have decided to come up with two more reforms. These are purely focused on user protection and reducing the cyber fraud cases,” the minister said.
Vaishnaw stated that since May, the government had detected and deactivated an astonishing 52 lakh connections that were fraudulently obtained. This achievement was attributed to the implementation of the ‘Sanchar Saathi’ portal, which has proven instrumental in identifying and neutralising fraudulent connections.
As part of the crackdown, a staggering 67,000 dealers complicit in facilitating these illicit connections have been blacklisted and about 300 FIRs have been lodged against those facilitating cyber fraud.
The minister stressed that the new directives, which will be implemented soon, would mandate a rigorous police verification and biometric authentication process for new dealers of mobile SIM cards.
Further, the practice of purchasing SIM cards in bulk has been completely terminated to stop fraudulent activities. Instead, a meticulous business connection provision will be introduced, permitting bona-fide businesses to acquire connections following rigorous verification and registration protocols.
To ensure that the new measures are followed, those found violating these rules would pay a hefty fine of Rs 10 lakh. The minister affirmed the commitment of the government to uphold the integrity of telecommunications networks and protect people from cybercrimes.
The minister pointed out that 17,000 illicitly obtained handsets were rendered inoperable, neutralising their potential for criminal use. Additionally, staggering 66,000 WhatsApp accounts linked to cyber fraud were blocked. Vaishnaw noted that in the case of WhatsApp, the company cooperated with the government to solve the concerned issues.
Moreover, nearly 8,00,000 payment account wallets implicated in illicit transactions were blocked, delivering a big blow to the financial underpinning of these criminal activities.
According to Vaishnaw, once the new measures are implemented across the country, the Department of Communications hopes to see the changes in 7 to 8 months in the current cyber fraud scenario.
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