Police Demand ID Checks for All Phone Users to Thwart Crime

The National Police on Tuesday announced strict new measures to ensure that criminals cannot evade arrest by using mobile phones with unregistered SIM cards to commit crimes such as terrorism, drug trafficking and kidnapping.

At a press conference co-hosted with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Deputy National Police Commissioner Chhay Sinarith said that authorities’ inability to link phone numbers to the individuals who purchased them was hampering efforts to track down dangerous criminals.

“Based on investigations into some big crimes such as terrorism, cross-border crimes, drug trafficking, human trafficking and kidnapping, perpetrators who use telephone networks to commit criminal activity use other people’s identity cards or no identity cards,” Lieutenant General Sinarith said, claiming that 70 percent of criminals used unregistered phone numbers.

“Starting tomorrow, people must use identity cards to buy SIM cards,” Lt. Gen. Sinarith said, adding that telecommunications firms would have three months to verify the identify of all their customers, or disconnect the numbers of those without a name attached.

Any unverified numbers would automatically be disconnected after three months, he warned, while any companies that failed to cooperate with police could see their licenses suspended.

Lt. Gen. Sinarith said that the coming clampdown was merely an attempt to enforce a 2012 circular mandating that telecom firms be shown a Cambodian ID card or passport for all numbers they distribute. He said police and ministry officials met with companies on August 17 to ensure their cooperation.

“This is a problem that affects all of us,” said Mao Chakrya, chief of the Telecommunications Ministry’s Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia, during the press conference.

“We will regulate the distribution of SIM cards,” he said.

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