After giving some directives and observation, the High Court yesterday disposed of a writ petition filed challenging the legality of biometric registration for purchase of mobile phone Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards.In an order, the HC bench comprising Justice Syed Mohammad Dastagir Husain and Justice AKM Shahidul Huq cleared way for mobile operators to continue biometric registration of SIM cards amid widespread skepticism.
But, the HC bench directed the operators to “strongly protect” customer data obtained in this process.
It directed the Election Commission to preserve fingerprint document in a safe place by using stong password.
The HC bench also directed the mobile operators to strongly follow telecom regulator’s directives, which were issued in registering the SIM cards.
Additional Attorney General Murad Reza told The Independent that there was no legal bar for the operators to take fingerprint from the mobile users following the High Court verdict.
“Now everyone who are interested to use mobile SIM cards, they have to register their SIM cards through due process of law,” he added.
Advocate Anik R Haque, counsel for the petitioner, told reporters that the HC disposed of the petition with some observation and directives.
The authorities concerned are directed to be more careful in registering the SIM cards so that the data, which were collected by the mobile operators during SIM cards registration, could be kept in a safe place by using strong password, he added.
During the hearing, Advocate Anik R Haque, counsel for the petitioner, told the court that collecting such private information of citizens by the mobile companies is not safe for the people.
He also said that as per the provision of the country’s law, the government could not force anyone by setting a specific timeframe to register their SIM before the completion of the National Registration of citizen. But the BTRC has issued a circular asking the people to register their SIM within April 30. Otherwise, it said it would deactivate the SIM, which is illegal in the eye of law, the lawyer added.
Haque also said that the owners of five mobile operators excluding Teletalk Bangladesh Ltd are foreigners, so the information may be leaked out from them which can cause damage to the people and the country. Collecting such information through biometric SIM registration should be scrapped, he added.
A Supreme Court lawyer SM Enamul Huq on March 9 filed the petition challenging the legality of biometric SIM registration as collecting such private info of citizens by the mobile companies is not safe for the people.
Thirteen persons including secretaries to the home and law ministries, chairman of the telecoms regulatory body, chief election commissioner, NID registration wing’s chief and the mobile phone operators have been respondents to the rule.
At present, a mobile phone SIM card cannot be sold without the buyer’s fingerprints, while the work to re-register SIM card owners by taking their fingerprints is continuing, set to end by April 30.
Government’s move for biometric SIM registration, which began from December last year, drew skepticism among customers about potential misuse of the information collected.
Telecom Minister Tarana Halim has repeatedly told citizens to register respective SIM in this process by April 30, otherwise, she warned, mobile connection will be terminated.
Advocate Muktadir Rahman assisted Advocate Anik R Haque while Barrister Reza-e-Rakib and Barrister Sayed Mahsib Hossain moved for the respondents.