Hong Kong Telephone SIM Card Registration Requirement Causes Privacy Concerns

Hong Kong’s new telecommunications law requires users to register a mobile phone SIM card using an official name. This will further fuel fear in the city which has yet to accept national security legislation, experts say.

The regulation was passed last June and goes into effect in September. The law limits individuals to 10 prepaid SIM cards and corporate users to 25, and new users must register their names on their identity cards. In March, under the law, phone users must register with their real names.

According to the Hong Kong government, the law is to “facilitate the prevention and detection of crimes related to the use of prepaid SIM cards, thereby maintaining the integrity of telecommunications services and the security of communication networks.”

Mobile phones stand at an electronics exhibition in Beijing, China, October 14, 2020. (AP)

Mobile phones stand at an electronics exhibition in Beijing, China, October 14, 2020. (AP)

Violators can be sentenced to up to three years in prison or a maximum fine of about $ 130,000.

The new law is widely seen as part of a crackdown on anti-government protesters in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement who, for security reasons, have tried to hide their identities by wearing masks and using prepaid SIM cards in communications.

Police data show that Hong Kongers were scammed via email nine times more often than telephone-related crimes in the 12 months to August this year. Victims lost $31.2 million to corporate email fraud in that period, compared with $4.8 million to telephone fraud. [ka/ab]

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