Indian cellcos demand authentic customer proof

A major row has broken out in India over the government's mandate on all cellcos to obtain authentic proof of ID from potential users of mobile phones before they are allowed to buy a contract or pre-pay handset.

Although the cellcos have operated a self-regulating scheme under which most shops have asked for basic ID from punters, the Indian government is citing the need for a copy of a passport or national ID card and proof of address from all new users.

This action is being brought under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which, amongst other things, now requires cellular shops to send in monthly reports to the local police commissioner.

If shop owners fail to submit the reports, or fail to get the required IDs etc., from purchasers of mobiles, then they could face serious criminal charges.

Talk about draconian rules. But get this - India also has a large number of illegal immigrants who will effectively be barred from buying a pre-pay mobile under the new rules.

And since they're hardly likely to be in a position to have a landline at their home, this new ruling all but disenfranchises Indian illegals on the communications front, which is not at all nice...