New rules streamline identity checking for prepaid mobiles

Telecommunications service providers and consumers will benefit from additional options for prepaid mobile services identity-checking requirements, effective immediately.

The changes—introduced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and proposed by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA)—allow mobile providers to verify a person’s identity information using two new methods:

  • confirming a customer’s existing prepaid mobile account
  • sighting identification at the mobile provider’s shopfront at the time the service is activated at the shopfront.

‘It’s expected these new types of identity verification will provide greater convenience for customers while providing increased efficiencies and reduced transaction costs for industry,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

Sign-up costs for industry are expected to be reduced because eligible prepaid mobile account holders will no longer have to go through the same verification process for each subsequent purchase. Customers, who are unable to or prefer not to use online verification methods, have the option of showing identification at the mobile provider’s shopfront when activating their service.

The new options add to the six methods introduced in October 2013 that enable identity verification by the mobile provider itself at the time the service is activated, instead of identity checking by third parties at the store front.

The ACMA consulted about the amendments with a range of interested parties including the Attorney-General’s Department, law enforcement agencies, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and consumer advocacy groups.

A key objective of the identity checking rules is protecting the privacy of individuals by requiring that mobile providers only obtain the minimum amount of information reasonably necessary to verify identity.

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