Counter-Terrorism: Anonymous SIMs Stopped

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June 12,2008: Algerian counter-terrorism commanders convinced their government to ban the use of unregistered (anonymous) SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards for cell phones. In most parts of the world, you can move your cell phone service from one phone to another by simply removing the small (25x14mm) SIM "card" from one phone and inserting it in another. SIM cards can also be bought just for the minutes stored on them, and these "anonymous" SIMs are popular with gangsters, and terrorists. Algerian police noticed, when examining terrorist bombing sites, that the explosives were often set off using a cell phone with an anonymous SIM card. In one case last year, police searching a captured terrorist hideout found 300 anonymous SIM cards.

About fifteen percent of the 28 million cell phones in Algeria use anonymous SIMs. Everyone using the anonymous cards were given several months to register them. Most users did not, and now some three million of those cards have had their service cut off.

 


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