A Change of Guard

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Friday, 17 June 2016

Cambodia welcomes regional SIM proposal

SIM cards sit on the counter of a shop in central Phnom Penh in October.
SIM cards sit on the counter of a shop in central Phnom Penh in October. Pha Lina

Cambodia welcomes regional SIM proposal
Thu, 16 June 2016 ppp
Cheng Sokhorng

The government is considering a proposal for telecommunications regulators in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar to jointly enforce mobile phone SIM card registration in an effort to prevent cross-border fraud and drug trafficking, among other illegal activities.

The Thai-led initiative was initially proposed at last year’s annual meeting of ASEAN telecom regulators and Cambodia has welcomed the prospect of regional cooperation, Im Vutha, director of the regulation and dispute unit at the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC), said yesterday.

“It’s a good plan to share data [between countries] and to crack down on crime . . . but we need to discuss more concrete plans on executing this,” he said.

Although Cambodia initiated its own national clampdown on unregistered SIM cards last September, Vutha said mobile operators have not responded to a government directive to confirm the identities of SIM card owners.

“I don’t have any updates on unregistered SIM cards from the operators,” he said, adding that enforcement of the directive is the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior.

Nine months on, many shops in Cambodia continue to sell SIM cards without requiring identification documents from customers.

Prak Sophea, a SIM card retailer at TTN phone shop in Phnom Penh, said some mobile phone companies have left the door open for consumers to purchase SIM cards without registering them.

“A SIM card company told me to ask for IDs from customers, but also to give them the option of registering themselves,” she said, adding that the opt-in approach allows customers to avoid registration.

Som Sineth, a student from Kampong Speu province, claims she purchased a Smart SIM card more than a year ago without providing any identity documents, yet the operator continues to provide service despite the number remaining unregistered.

“I’ve never received any calls from the company asking me for registration ID,” she said. “I’ve also been wondering how nothing has happened to my phone service since the government said that they would crack down on unregistered SIM cards.”

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