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Real-names for wireless cards

By Zhang Hui (Global Times)

14:43, April 15, 2013

Residents will have to register their real names when purchasing wireless network cards or installing landline phones in Beijing.

Experts warned the telecom companies of possible personal information leaks through their various sales channels, especially online platforms.

The regulation, published on the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, is still soliciting public opinions. It will require users of mobile phones and landlines and buyers of wireless network cards to show identification cards or passports when they sign up or buy the cards.

Some telecom companies already ask for real names, however, online platforms and newsstands do not require real names when they sell cards.

An online shop owner, who refused to be named, said ID information is not necessary.

"My wireless network cards are bought in the name of a company, so you don't need to get registered," she said, adding her cards come from telecom companies, and reassured the reporter of their authenticity.

Over 500 such wireless network card sellers could be found on online sales platform Taobao Sunday.

China Unicom told the Global Times it has not been informed of the regulation.

"I don't know if we'll cooperate with other departments to reform online selling channels, but we required real-name registration to buy wireless network cards and landlines two years ago," said Tang Liuming, Beijing Unicom spokesperson.

A China Unicom store manager in Hujialou, Chaoyang district, surnamed Zhang, said residents can report loss of their wireless network cards and get a new one under the real-name registration system.

But there are still risks involved with the real-name system. Zhang Yaowen, a telecom expert from Analysys International, believes the real-name system can help reduce telecom fraud, but could also cause information leaks.

"Under a real-name system, police can track down suspects much easier and faster in fraud cases," said Zhang.

"But telecom companies have difficulty in controlling all their sales channels including those sold online or at newsstands," he said. As subscribers must give telephone numbers, ID numbers and addresses to salespeople, they could sell on the information to third parties.

The new regulation states that any telecom employees who fail to keep clients' information confidential, or try to sell it illegally will be punished.

Three former employees of China Mobile and China Unicom, who sold subscribers' personal information, were sentenced to up to two years in jail in 2010 in Beijing, the Beijing Daily reported in 2010.

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