11 January 2014 17:15

A bill proposal to prevent pay-as-you-go mobile phones being used for criminal activity is expected to be submitted to the House for vote before the end of March.
Speaking to the media after a House Communications Committee meeting yesterday, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said the bill is being discussed after fears that the anonymity of soeasy SIM cards is often exploited by criminal gangs who use them because they are impossible to trace.
"The intention is not to inconvenience consumers but to prevent criminals exploiting the anonymity that prepaid phone cards allow."
Once approved, the bill will force mobile users to register their details before purchasing a soeasy SIM card as in the UK.
Nicolaou added that the authorities are currently discussing how best to monitor prepaid phone use in the north with the Telecommunications Regulator and expressed confidence that tourists visiting Cyprus will not be inconvenienced once the new law comes into effect.
Committee Chairman Antonis Antoniou said the House was presented with shocking statistics regarding the use of prepaid mobile phone cards in relation with criminal activity.
"The committee will reconvene in February to discuss this matter and it will then put the bill forward for a final vote."
According to Diko MP Angelos Votsis, who suggested the bill last year, the law amendment will require new phone users to register their details (name and ID card number) with their telecommunications provider.
Those who already own a prepaid card will have six months to comply with the law once it has been voted through.
"Once these adjustments have been made we will know who is hidden behind each and every phone number."
According to data submitted to the committee last year, Cyta has 450,000 pay-as-you-go customers and 400,000 on contract, while MTN has 200,000 pay-as-you-go customers.
Mobile phone companies have said they expect losses of tens of millions of euros if the proposal is passed into law, while a number of MPs have expressed scepticism over whether the law changes will be at all effective in combating crime.


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