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Press Releases

21 October 2005

Regulatory Controls on Prepaid SIM Cards from 1 Nov 2005 - Singapore Tightens Security Controls, 21 October 2005

As part of an ongoing and holistic security review by the Government to boost Singapore's security, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in collaboration with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), have worked together with mobile service providers on a practical regulatory regime over prepaid SIM1 cards.

Security Concerns

2 Mr Wong Kan Seng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, has observed that prepaid SIM cards is an area of security concern. He says,"Criminals exploit the anonymity of prepaid SIM cards to avoid detection. Terrorist groups like the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have done so too. In the region, we have seen Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) elements using prepaid SIM cards extensively to avoid detection. In Songkhla this April, three simultaneous bombings happened in the evening. All three bombs were detonated using mobile phones, possibly utilising prepaid SIM cards."

3 DPM/Minister Wong has stressed that "Singapore must address this problem urgently as there are over 1.4 million local prepaid SIM cards, comprising 35 per cent of the mobile market, in circulation today." Singapore will not be the first, or only, country strengthening controls to deal with the anonymity of prepaid SIM cards. Switzerland and Australia have already enacted legislation to enforce registration requirements.

Measures to Prevent Abuse

4 The Ministry has been working closely with the IDA and the mobile service providers to work out practical regulatory controls that will be implemented from 1 November. The Ministry and IDA has taken into consideration various factors, including the need to facilitate investigations by law enforcement agencies, usage by the public, and business considerations of mobile service providers.

Compulsory Recording of Customer Details and Re-registration by Existing Customers

5 From 1 November, mobile service providers, such as the Singapore Telecom Mobile Pte Ltd, StarHub Mobile Pte Ltd and MobileOne Ltd, will be required to ensure compliance in recording the personal details of all customers who buy prepaid SIM cards. This will be included as part of the Facilities-Based Operator licence condition imposed by IDA. The three mobile service providers will be required to electronically record customer personal details. The new electronic system will replace their existing manual recording of customer personal details. Annex A shows the re-registration and registration processes.

6 These changes replace the existing practice by the mobile service providers of manually recording customer personal details. Over the years and due to an exponential expansion in the prepaid SIM card market, the practice of recording customers' details has eroded. For example, some retailers had recorded names like 'Santa Claus', while other retailers simply record their own names as having purchased the prepaid SIM card.

7 To ensure that customer particulars are accurately recorded, all existing prepaid SIM card users are required to re-register at retail outlets which sell prepaid SIM cards sold by their respective mobile service providers. Users can continue to use their prepaid SIM cards if they re-register their particulars with their mobile operators during the six-month re-registration period of 1 Nov 2005 to 1 May 2006. It is only if they do not re-register during the specified period that their prepaid SIM cards will be deactivated from 2 May 2006.

8 For the purpose of registering prepaid SIM cards, the following documents will be accepted:

- Singaporeans: Pink identity cards
- Singapore Permanent Residents: Blue identity cards
- National Servicemen: SAF11 B, SPF11 B and SCDF11 B2
- Foreign Workers: Work Permit Identification Cards (issued from 3 May 1999)
- Foreign Visitors: Passports

New Requirements

9 From 1 November, there will also be two new requirements, i.e. a minimum age requirement and a cap on the maximum number of cards purchased.

10 Customers must be at least 15 years old before being eligible to purchase a prepaid SIM card.

11 In addition, each customer is limited to a maximum of 10 prepaid SIM cards. This is regardless of the mobile service provider from which the customer purchases the prepaid SIM card. For instance, a customer can subscribe to a maximum of 10 prepaid SIM cards from only one mobile service provider, or a combination of the 3 mobile service providers. The cap of 10 is based on market trends which show that the majority of prepaid SIM card subscribers register for up to 5 prepaid SIM cards. The new terminal devices are able to verify if customers have exceeded the maximum number of prepaid SIM cards they are eligible to purchase.

Public and Customer Queries

12 Members of the public who have queries relating to the licensing, or the policy behind the regulatory controls over prepaid SIM cards may wish to visit the MHA website at www.mha.gov.sg or call IDA / MHA Feedback (Prepaid SIM Cards) at 65110613. Prepaid SIM card users should approach their respective mobile service providers for details specific to service from their mobile service providers.

Mcard (MobileOne)
Tel: 1800-8438288

Hi!Card (SingTel)
Tel: 1800-4822800

Green Prepaid (StarHub)
Tel: 1633


MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS
INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE
21 October 2005
________________________________________________________________________________

Footnote:
1 SIM or Subscriber Identification Module cards are tiny removable encoded circuit boards which are fitted into GSM cell phones at the time of signing on as a subscriber. It holds the details of the subscriber, security and personal data, and memory to store personal numbers. A SIM card also stores information which helps the network service provider recognise the caller. The SIM also stores user ID and billing information and can be interchanged between phones. Users can easily receive personal calls even while using someone else's phone just by installing their SIM card into another mobile phone.

2 The SAF 11B is the military identity card. The SPF 11B and SCDF 11B are issued to Full-Time National Servicemen.
________________________________________________________________________

For media clarifications, please contact:

Ms Charlotte Loh
Public and Crisis Communications Executive
Ministry of Home Affairs
Tel: +65 6478-5718 ; Fax: +65 6254-5782
Email: charlotte_loh@mha.gov.sg

Ms Gillian Ong
Assistant Director, Publicity
Ministry of Home Affairs
Tel: +65 6478-6193 ; Fax: +65 6254-5782
Email: gillian_ong@mha.gov.sg

Ms Cindy Kong>
Manager, Corporate & Marketing Communication
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Tel: +65 6211-1997 ; Fax: +65 6211-2227
Email: cckong@ida.gov.sg

Mr Chua Swee Kiat
General Manager, Corporate Communications
M1
Tel: +65 6895 1060 ; Fax: +65 6899 3902
Email: chuask@m1.com.sg

Chia Boon Chong
Deputy Director, Corporate Communications
SingTel
TEL: +65 6838 2022 ; FAX: +65 6733 1350
Email: boonchong@singtel.com

Eric Loh
Corporate Communications & Investor Relations
StarHub
TEL: +65 6825 5171 ; FAX: +67215015
Email: ericloh@starhub.com

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