Real-name SIM card registration to begin March 2022

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The government on Tuesday announced that starting March 2022, people will be required to register their personal data in the purchase of SIM cards.

Hong Kong will require people to provide their real names and other personal data when buying mobile phone SIM cards starting March next year.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau announced on Tuesday that the city’s Executive Council approved the compulsory registration of personal data when purchasing these SIM cards.

But restrictions on the number of prepaid SIM cards individuals and businesses can register eased. Individuals may register up to 10 SIM cards which is an increase from the previous three, while corporate users can register up to 25 SIM cards.

The regulation, set to take effect on Sept. 1, seeks to prevent and detect crimes related to prepaid SIM card use. Telecommunication operators will have 180 days from that date to set up their data registration system.

From Mar. 1, 2021 to Feb. 23, 2023, new users of prepaid SIM cards and SIM service plans should give their full name, a copy of their identity document, and date of birth to their operators for logging.

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Unregistered prepaid SIM cards by the end of that period will be deactivated and can no longer be used.

Existing SIM service plan users do not need to reregister their personal data with their operators unless they change telecommunication providers or use a new phone number.

Earlier this year, the government sought feedback from the public and industry stakeholders on the measure, citing the need to curb offences like phone scams since pay-as-you-go SIM cards were not regulated.

Yau said that over 70% of the stakeholders expressed support for the policy during the seven-week consultation period, with some suggesting to relax the limit on SIM cards one can register.

The measure will be gazetted on June 4, and the Legislative Council is set to review it on June 9.