PTA admits misuse of airline passenger’s data for mobile phone registration in Pakistan

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PTA has admitted that the passenger’s data acquired at the airport for mobile phone registration in Pakistan is being misused.

The authority informed the Senate Standing Committee on Wednesday and pinned the whole ordeal on the connivance of the travel agents and FIA officials who are allegedly involved in using the airline passengers data to register illegal mobile phones.

The PTA official also notified that they have received more than 700 complaints related to data theft of passengers who did not bring a mobile phone while traveling to Pakistan.

The authority believes that some FIA officials and travel agencies are involved in this racket and explained that PTA is only responsible for registering a mobile phone against the provided data.

However, the committee observed that smartphones are being registered in the name of minors as well which does not seem possible without any internal help. It recommended that the authorities need to raise awareness among the masses about the process of mobile phone registration in Pakistan and taking measures to create a fool-proof system for data security.

The committee also observed that the system created to curb smuggling is becoming the cause of more problems for mobile phone users especially the ones coming from abroad.

The chairperson of the committee, Senator Rubina Khalid also said that the mobile phones being brought by the passengers do not come under smuggling and thus they should be exempted from registering their mobile phones including the ones they bring as gifts.

The PTA official also reported that the system for mobile phone registration in Pakistan is secure, automated and has been integrated with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

It was also revealed that around 663,622 personal users have registered themselves since February where 440,821 have been registered under baggage rule exemption with no tax and 12,293 have been registered in the duty-paid category. The number of commercially imported smartphones has also increased from 5.89 million in 2016 to 9.27 million in 2019.

Previously, during a meeting between the Senate standing committee and the Ministry of Information Technology, it was revealed the blocked mobile phones are being unblocked illegally in the black market. PTA started blocking 2.8 million unregistered phones earlier this year but seemingly the system is riddled with loopholes which are costing the Pakistanis their personal data.

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