The government of Hong Kong announced on Tuesday, June 1, that it plans to implement a real-name registration system for mobile phone pre-paid SIM cards in September in an effort to combat crime in the financial hub, a move that is likely to raise privacy and surveillance concerns.
The new system would require people to register their name, identification card number, and date of birth with the service provider, and authorities could use a warrant to request the information, said Commerce Secretary Edward Yau.
The bill will be heard in the Legislative Council on June 9 and, if passed, will go into effect on September 1. Each person could have up to ten pre-paid cards from each service provider, and consumers would have until March of the following year to register.
Some Hong Kong residents are concerned that the move will exacerbate a crackdown on dissent that began with Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security law on its most free city last year.
Hong Kong has one of Asia’s highest smartphone penetration rates, at about 90% of its population of 7.5 million, according to the government.