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Interior abandons plan to ban non-personalized prepaid SIM cards

Cell phones (Photo is illustrative).
Cell phones (Photo is illustrative). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

In the summer, the Ministry of the Interior planned to ban the sale of non-personalized calling cards, but has now abandoned the plan, saying it is not justified at a time of rapid technological development.

In July, Veiko Kommusaar, then deputy secretary-general for internal security at the Ministry of the Interior, said that a draft calling for the personalization of calling cards had been ready at the ministry for some time and would be sent for approval in the near future.

According to the draft, anyone could buy a calling card, but in order to activate it, it would have to be linked to a specific person to whom the number belonged. This would have made it easier for law enforcement, at least according to the ministry's assessment at the time.

On Tuesday, the Lithuanian Parliament approved a similar solution that will require telecom operators to register new prepaid calling cards and their purchasers starting in 2025.

Lithuania requires registration of a person's first name, last name, personal identification number, home address and type, series and number of the identity document when purchasing a calling card.

However, the Estonian Ministry of the Interior has since decided to abandon the plan.

"The Ministry of the Interior has assessed and analyzed the issue and does not consider it justified at this stage, in a situation where technology is developing rapidly, to elaborate a draft on the personalization of pre-paid calling cards," Joosep Kaasik, undersecretary for internal security at the Ministry of the Interior, said.

Critics say restricting anonymous calling cards would have robbed people of some of their privacy, while Justice Minister Kalle Laanet said law enforcement has enough tools to detect crime.

The Estonian Information Technology and Telecommunications Association said that in the age of roaming, social networking apps and encrypted messaging, there are a number of easy alternatives to anonymous communication.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Kristina Kersa

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