HONG KONG: Hong Kong plans to introduce a real name registration system for prepaid SIM cards for mobile phones in September with the aim of tackling crime in the financial center, the government said on Tuesday, an initiative that is likely to enhance privacy and surveillance issues.
Commerce Secretary Edward Yau said the new system would require people to register their name, ID card number and date of birth with the service provider, and authorities could use a warrant to request them. information.
The bill would be considered on June 9 in the Legislative Council – where there is no opposition after massive resignations last year to protest the disqualification of some pro-democracy lawmakers – and if passed it would come into effect on September 1, he added.
Each person could have up to 10 prepaid cards from each service provider, and consumers would have until March of next year to sign up.
Many countries have such registration systems, but some people in Hong Kong fear the move is aimed at stepping up the crackdown on dissent that began with Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law on its city. the freest last year.
Now only mobile users with SIM service contracts need to register their personal data in Hong Kong, and anyone can buy a prepaid SIM card at most convenience stores.
Hong Kong has one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in Asia, at around 90% of its population of 7.5 million, according to the government.
In 2019, Hong Kong had around 14.5 million prepaid SIM subscribers, an increase of 16.6% from the year, according to German database company Statista.
(Reporting by Jessie Pang; Written by Anne Marie Roantree. Editing by Gerry Doyle)