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Cyprus

Bill to end pay-as-you-go anonymity

Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides

Lawmakers are resurrecting an all but forgotten bill that would require users of pay-as-you-go, or prepaid mobile telephony, to register their names.

The House transport and communications committee on Thursday discussed a revised draft of legislation initially tabled back in 2009.

It would require users of pay-as-you-go to register their name before the service is activated – whether the SIM card is purchased from a mobile phone provider or a kiosk.

The matter is being revisited following the passage of a law last week allowing police to carry out phone surveillance with a court order.

Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides said ending anonymity in communications, through use of pay-as-you-go and burner phones, will provide law enforcement with another valuable crime-fighting tool.

Giorgos Procopiou, chairman of the communications committee, said both the data protection commissioner and the attorney-general have seen the current draft bill and have no objections to it.

He said that when the bill was first discussed, some 10 years ago, mobile phone companies were opposed, concerned over taking a hit on sales if users were forced to register.

“But for parliament, the security of the state and its citizens supersedes the making of profits,” Procopiou remarked.

The committee has asked mobile phone companies to submit their views within two weeks. Lawmakers plan to begin an article-by-article discussion of the bill as soon as possible.

Meanwhile it was still unclear whether the president would be sending back to parliament legislation concerning the monitoring of phone communications.

The government believes that last-minute amendments made to the bill – passed by the House last Friday – would render it ineffective. For instance, one amendment absolutely prohibits police from surveilling phone communications involving a lawyer and his or her client.

The president has one more week to decide whether to return the bill to parliament, asking MPs to remove the amendments in question.

 

 

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