Last update: Sat, 13 Feb 2016 03pm

SIMs verified through BVS: PTA selects Secure Tech firm for third-party audit

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has selected Secure Tech consultancy firm for third-party audit of mobile subscribers' data, verified during the Biometric Verification System (BVS) drive, it is learnt. Official sources revealed to Business Recorder that Secure Tech consultancy firm has been selected and the name has been sent for intelligence clearance. Secure Tech is reportedly run by an ex-Army officer who also served as Chairman NADRA.

After getting required clearance from intelligence agencies, the government would sign an agreement with the firm to carry out audit of SIMs verified through BVS. Due to security concerns international consultancy firms were not invited, however 14 local firms had expressed an interest in the exercise.

The Authority had reportedly asked the Interior Ministry to give the task of audit to any probing agency; however the request was turned downed. SIMs' verification through BVS was made part of the National Action Plan (NAP) to avoid its misuse. After the conclusion of BVS drive, the Interior Ministry had directed the PTA to carry-out a third party audit of the whole exercise to verify its authenticity. In this regard, Expression of Interest (EoI) for hiring of a third party auditor was floated.

The subscribers of a telecom operator increased by about one million during March-April, at a time when the sale of new SIMs was banned at retailers, which raises question marks on the credibility of BVS drive, said sources, adding that the number of subscribers of other telecom operators declined during this period. The PTA had taken serious note of the alleged discrepancies in SIMs data submitted by telecom companies after the BVS drive and had directed all telecom operators to provide monthly subscribers information but only BVS verified.

Out of target of 103 million active SIMs, 75.5 million SIMs were re-verified through BVS while 27.5 million active SIMs were blocked by 15th May 2015 which brought down the number of active SIMs from 139 million to 111.5 million. According to the latest figures released by the Authority, the number of active SIMs has reached 120.94 million. Sources said that strict action against telecom operators would be taken if found involved in submitting wrong SIM data including show-cause notices and heavy penalties as per the law. Once the third-party audit of telecom operators' data is completed, it would be made public.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2015