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India Advancing Digital Trust and Cyber Resilience

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The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has unveiled two reforms to foster digital inclusion and enhance security and customer protection in the telecommunication sector: the KYC Reform and the Point of Sale (POS) Registration Reform.

KYC Reform

KYC involves verifying a customer’s identity to enable traceability prior to granting them access to telecom services. Fortifying the current KYC protocol is an important tool to protect telecom service subscribers from fraudulent activities. According to the government, strengthening KYC reforms will boost the trust and confidence of the public in the digital landscape.

Moreover, to prevent the misuse of printed Aadhaar cards, demographic information will need to be mandatorily captured by scanning the QR code on the printed Aadhaar card.  Additionally, if a mobile number is disconnected, it will remain unavailable for allocation to new customers for 90 days. To replace a SIM card, subscribers must undergo a fresh, comprehensive KYC process. Moreover, a 24-hour bar will be imposed on both outgoing and incoming SMS services. Additionally, apart from thumb impression and iris-based authentication in the Aadhaar e-KYC process, the government is now permitting facial-based biometric authentication.

The reform also introduces the provision for business connections when issuing mobile connections to entities such as companies, organisations, trusts, and societies. Entities can take any number of mobile connections subject to complete KYC of all its end-users. A SIM card will be activated only after the successful KYC of end users and the physical verification of the premise/address of the entity.

Point-of-Sale (POS) Registration Reform

This reform introduces the mandatory registration of franchisees, agents, and distributors (PoS) by Licensees. The move will replace the bulk connection system and is expected to reduce rogue PoS who issue SIM cards through fraudulent methods to anti-social/anti-national groups, the government said.

The new PoS registration procedure involves the rigorous and indisputable verification of PoS by the Licensee. This process necessitates a written agreement between the Licensee and the PoS. In the event of any unlawful activities by a PoS, the entity will face termination and will be placed on a blacklist for three years. All existing PoS will be registered as per this process by Licensees within 12 months. This initiative aims to effectively identify, blacklist, and eradicate rogue PoS operations from the Licensees’ system, while concurrently fostering a supportive environment for law-abiding PoS entities.

Sanchar Saathi

These reforms are in line with previously launched reforms introduced alongside Sanchar Saathi, a citizen-centric platform that aims to bolster the country’s battle against cybercrimes and financial fraud.

The portal enables mobile subscribers to search mobile connections registered in their name, report connections registered fraudulently in their name, if any, and report stolen or lost mobile devices and block them.

Through the portal, around 1.14 billion active mobile connections have been analysed. The data analysis detected over 6.6 million suspected mobile connections. More than 5.2 million mobile connections that failed re-verification have been disconnected. Furthermore, over 67,000 fraudulent PoS have been blacklisted. Nearly 17,000 mobile handsets have been blocked. About 800,000 bank/wallet accounts used by fraudsters have been frozen.

Meanwhile, out of about 1.8 million subscriber reports regarding illegally registered mobile connections in their name, 926,000 complaints have been resolved. 300,000 out of 750,000 complaints concerning stolen or lost mobile devices have been traced.

The Department of Telecommunications, through these transformative reforms, is committed to safeguarding the interests of citizens, the government has claimed. By merging advanced technology with diligent monitoring, the department remains resolute in its mission to achieve the utmost level of safety and confidence within the telecommunications domain, thus furnishing a secure and dependable communication ecosystem for all stakeholders.

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