July 12, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka Saturday tightened mobile phone regulations and forced service providers to maintain full details of phone users as part of anti-terrorism moves.
Phone operators were told to check the identity of subscribers before signing them up, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission chief Priyantha Kariyapperuma said.
New and current subscribers also need to keep a certified copy of the letter issued by the operator for inspection by police and military, in order to prove the ownership of the phone connection, he said.
“The rules were brought in on the request of the defence ministry, because mobile phones are misused for terrorist activities. The government is finding it difficult to trace the real owners,” he told AFP.
Separatist Tamil Tiger rebels, who are fighting for a separate homeland for minority Tamils from the majority Sinhalese community, are known to use several mobile phone connections under different names to evade detection.
Mobile telephones have also been used to remotely detonate bombs.
Kariyapperuma announced the new rules would go into effect “immediately” but said existing users would be given “some reasonable time” to get their paperwork sorted out.
Sri Lanka, which has a population of 20 million people, has 12 million telephone subscribers, of which 10 million are mobile phones, Kariyapperuma said