Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has selected Secure Tech consultancy firm for third-party audit of mobile subscribers’ data, verified during the Biometric Verification System (BVS) drive, we have learned.
Official sources revealed to ProPakistani that Secure Tech consultancy firm has been selected and their name has been sent for intelligence clearance. Firm will be responsible for cross-verification of the data submitted by telecom operators for their BVS verified SIMs.
Secure Tech is reportedly run by an ex-Army officer who also served as Chairman NADRA.
After getting required clearance from intelligence agencies, the government would sign agreement with the firm to carry out audit of SIMs verified through BVS. Due to security concerns, international consultancy firms were not invited, however, 14 local firms had expressed interest in the exercise.
The third party audit is to verify the data submitted by telecom operators in Pakistan
The Authority had reportedly asked the Interior Ministry to give the task of audit to any probing agency; however, the request was turned downed.
SIMs’ verification through BVS was made part of the National Action Plan (NAP) to avoid the misuse of phones. After the conclusion of BVS drive, Interior Ministry had directed PTA to carry-out a third party audit of the whole exercise to verify its authenticity. In this regard, Expression of Interest (EoI) for hiring of a third party auditor was floated.
The subscribers of a telecom operator increased by about one million during March-April, at a time when the sale of new SIMs was banned at retailers, which raises question marks on the credibility of BVS drive, said sources, adding that the number of subscribers of other telecom operators declined during this period.
PTA had taken serious note of the alleged discrepancies in SIMs data submitted by telecom companies after the BVS drive and had directed all telecom operators to provide monthly subscribers information but only for BVS verified customers.
If found to have submitted wrong SIM data, telcos could face heavy penalties and show cause notices
Out of target of 103 million active SIMs, 75.5 million SIMs were re-verified through BVS while 27.5 million active SIMs were blocked by 15th May 2015 which brought down the number of active SIMs from 139 million to 111.5 million.
According to the latest figures released by the Authority, the number of active SIMs has reached 120.94 million.
Sources said that stern action against telecom operators would be taken if they were found to be involved in submitting wrong SIMs data including show-cause notices and heavy penalties as per the law.
PTA said that it will make the results of third-party audit public after the completion of the process.