Algeria links anonymous SIM cards to terrorism
Government cracks down on sales of unidentifiable chips over concerns that they are used by terrorists
The Algerian government has intensified its crackdown against the use of anonymous mobile phone SIM cards after it found terrorists used unidentifiable chips to communicate and coordinate attacks in the country.
Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) on cards store a specific service subscriber key from the operator to identify each user. In the past, Algerian mobile operators sold SIM cards that couldn't be identified, creating a security risk.
The Magharebia website, which is sponsored by the military United States Africa Command, reported that about 95 attacks have been carried out over the last three years using anonymous SIM cards. And, according to daily Tout sur l'Algerie, they are now classified as ‘sensitive equipment'
In March 2008, the Algerian government ordered domestic mobile phone companies to stop selling anonymous mobile phones and SIM cards. Algerian operators including Mobilis and Nedjma were told to identify every subscriber by April 20th that year or have the unidentified accounts blocked automatically.
The news came as council chief for the Algerian Regulatory Authority for Post and Telecommunications Mohamed Belfodil revealed at a forum last year that out of 28 million mobile subscribers in the country, 10 to 15% have not been identified.