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Strengthening Digital Security: India’s New SIM Card Rules Come Into Effect 

New sim card rules

In a significant move to enhance digital security and combat rising instances of online fraud and scams, the Department of Telecommunications in India has implemented new SIM card rules, effective from December 1, 2023. The rules, initially announced on August 1, 2023, were scheduled for implementation by October 1 but faced a slight delay. Aimed at curbing financial fraud, the new regulations are designed to address the challenges posed by fake SIM cards and online scams that have become increasingly prevalent. 

Key Changes and Objectives: 

The primary objectives of the new SIM card rules are to establish stringent measures against online fraud and to ensure the responsible issuance and use of SIM cards. The key changes include: 

Mandatory Registration: 

Telecom operators are now obligated to register franchisees, distributors, and point-of-sale (PoS) agents. This registration requirement aims to prevent unauthorized issuance of SIM cards and restrict access to individuals engaged in illegal activities. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in termination or a three-year blacklist for PoS agents. There is a 12-month window for PoS agents to complete the new registration process. 

E-KYC (Digital Know Your Customer): 

Effective from December 1, 2023, the new rules mandate the use of Digital Know Your Customer (e-KYC) for the digital verification of each SIM card user. Every SIM card sale must undergo digital verification, with telecom operators being responsible for police verification. Non-compliance with digital KYC may result in fines up to Rs 10 lakh for dealers. Additionally, the KYC process for SIM replacements must be completed within 24 hours of requesting SMS facilities. 

Preventing Aadhar Misuse: 

To address the high misuse of printed Aadhar cards, the new guidelines require capturing demographic details by scanning the QR code on printed Aadhaar cards. Before disconnecting a mobile number, a 90-day cool-off period is mandated to prevent misuse. 

Bulk SIM Card Connection Discontinuation: 

In a bid to counter fraudulent activities, the government has discontinued provisions for bulk SIM card connections. Dealers found violating this norm may face penalties of up to Rs 10 lakh. According to the new rules, an individual can obtain up to 9 SIM cards on a single ID. 

Sanchar Saathi Portal and ASTR Software: 

The government has also introduced the Sanchar Saathi portal, allowing users to report stolen or lost mobiles for quick blocking. This initiative is complemented by AI software named ASTR, designed to identify and mitigate the use of illegal mobile connections. 

In Summary 

India’s new SIM card rules mark a significant step towards enhancing digital security and safeguarding users against online fraud and scams. With a focus on mandatory registration, digital verification, prevention of Aadhar misuse, and the discontinuation of bulk SIM card connections, these regulations are poised to strengthen the integrity of the country’s telecommunications network. As individuals and businesses adapt to these changes, the collective effort to mitigate financial fraud is expected to yield a more secure and resilient digital environment. 

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