Tougher enforcement of public phone and Internet user ID registration [Archives:2008/1159/Local News]

May 29 2008

By: Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, May 17 – Users of calling center phone booths and internet service providers must provide personal identification to the service provider before they can make any phone calls or surf the web. This regulation was handed down from the Ministry of the Interior as a security measure beginning in 2002 with endorsement from the Capital Security Office.

“It is a measure taken to control the communication of suspects and keep track of who they are dealing with. We request that all call centers and service providers cooperate with us to ensure that every caller has been identified and registered,” said Mohammed Abdullah Al-Qawsi, Deputy Minister of Interior for Security Affairs.

According to Al-Qawsi, there is no technology installed in the telecommunication network that can monitor the phone calls and Internet conversations in Yemen. The ministry started this measure to register callers from public phones in order to identify potential suspects and their accomplices in case of a security breach or attack. This means that the time of the call and ID of person calling must be recorded and regularly reviewed by the ministry's security department.

However, these instructions are far away from being applied in real life, as many phone booth and communication service providers have said they either are not aware of this regulation, or that they know about it but don't apply it.

Telecommunications and Internet center owners complained that their daily income would greatly decrease if they didn't allow any customer who does not carry his or her ID card to make phone calls or use the Internet, as many of the male customers don't have IDs or carry identification with them all the time. Moreover, they said because of cultural reasons, most women refuse to show their ID cards, which show their faces.

Abdulkawi Al-Sharabi, a telecommunications center owner, complained that his revenues decreased by at least 45 percent since he started implementing the regulation. “I received the instruction from the district police administration and tried to apply it but I couldn't. Most male customers don't have IDs or refuse to give me the information,” said Al-Sharabi. “”Women refused to show their IDs because of their photos and that affected my income greatly