Bangladesh cuts off anonymous handsets

Every SIM to have registered owner


Mobile operators in Bangladesh this week cut off more than a million connections to customers who bought their SIMs anonymously, despite the fact that doing so was completely legal at the time.

Operators have already got the deadline extended twice, giving users more time to let the operators know their identity, but the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission stood firm and the process of disconnecting the anonymous users was started last night.

The Swiss were the first to sell blister-packed mobiles, complete with a couple of AA batteries, off the shelf without filling in paper work or proving one's identity. The creation of pre-pay systems, removing the need for credit checks, allowed anyone to buy a mobile phone anonymously and use it with impunity, much to the annoyance of law-enforcement agencies around the world.

Most countries have tried to impose some sort of control on the anonymous mobile phone. In countries where national ID cards are used production of such a card is de rigueur, elsewhere some proof of identity is often asked for, though in the UK the motivation is generally commercial.

Pre-paid connections are still rewarded by the operator: the shop will get fifty quid or so for every pre-paid connection they sell. The exact amount varies, and will be less if they can't pass your identity on to the operator.

The operator desperately wants to know who you are, so they can sell you more stuff, and work out the kind of stuff you might buy. They also have more legitimate worries about content filtering for kids and so forth.

So operators want anonymous phones to rapidly develop a market, get lots of handsets out and in use, but then they'd like everyone to register their phones with the operators so they can sell them stuff more effectively.

In Bangladesh it was all going swimmingly, with anonymous phones pushing penetration up (currently just over 40 million - around 25 per cent of the population), and the regulator kindly insisting punters register, for security reasons of course. Unfortunately more than a million customers didn't bother, and now the operators have been forced to cut them off – not really part of the plan. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022