The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is planning to launch unique customer identification number for mobile subscribers, which will serve as a one-stop shop for all aspects of their primary and add-on phone connections. The move is expected to safeguard users from cyber fraud and provide targeted consumers with government-sponsored economic benefits. The idea is very similar to the 14-digit Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Account (ABHA) health ID, which is linked to the Aadhaar card and facilitates easy access to medical records and enables medical practitioners and insurers to obtain medical information quickly.
The mobile customer ID can also be used to track SIM cards on a single identity, to identify the locations where users purchased SIM cards, and to facilitate the smooth identification of users who own SIM cards. This measure will also ensure that SIM cards are not issued to a single customer beyond the permissible limit of nine. Currently, information about connections beyond the permissible limit is assessed only when the DoT conducts audits at various licensed service areas (LSAs) using artificial intelligence (AI)-based facial recognition technology.
Further, to address the issue of identifying the users who actually use SIM cards, the government is also expected to require subscribers to declare at the time of obtaining a SIM card who will actually use the connection in the family. A similar strategy is being considered as a way to largely assist telecom operators in complying with the verifiable parental consent clause for children’s data in accordance with the data protection law.
Additionally, DoT plans to group customer IDs by demographics such as age, gender, marital status, income, education, and employment. The usage patterns of SIM cards associated with each customer ID will also be analysed, based on which the government may issue orders to block the ID and associated SIM cards in a single operation if found suspicious.