Wednesday, February 25, 2015

“watching people when they move, it’s natural: every country does it. ”

WaPo |  Cellphones didn’t just arrive in Pakistan. But someone could be fooled into thinking otherwise, considering the tens of millions of Pakistanis pouring into mobile phone stores these days. 

In one of the world’s largest — and fastest — efforts to collect biometric information, Pakistan has ordered cellphone users to verify their identities through fingerprints for a national database being compiled to curb terrorism. If they don’t, their service will be shut off, an unthinkable option for many after a dozen years of explosive growth in cellphone usage here.

Prompted by concerns about a proliferation of illegal and untraceable SIM cards, the directive is the most visible step so far in Pakistan’s efforts to restore law and order after Taliban militants killed 150 students and teachers at a school in December. Officials said the six terrorists who stormed the school in Peshawar were using cellphones registered to one woman who had no obvious connection to the 

But the effort to match one person to each cellphone number involves a jaw-dropping amount of work. At the start of this year, there were 103 million SIM cards in Pakistan — roughly the number of the adult population — that officials were not sure were valid or properly registered. And mobile companies have until April 15 to verify the owners of all of the cards, which are tiny chips in cellphones that carry a subscriber’s personal security and identity information.

In the past six weeks, 53 million SIMs belonging to 38 million residents have been verified through biometric screening, officials said. 

“Once the verification of each and every SIM is done, coupled with blocking unverified SIMs, the terrorists will no longer have this tool,” said a senior Interior Ministry official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the government’s security policy. “The government knows that it’s an arduous job, both for the cellular companies and their customers, but this has to be done as a national duty.”


Ed Dunn said...

That makes no sense - in fact, this is problem the dumbest thing I heard all year. Real professionals are extremely offline even though Quadaffi and Bin Laden couldn't say off a cell phone. The best way would be to give everybody a free cell phone and find out who don't have one and why.

CNu said...

lol, we both know that cell phones are the 3rd world's Internet-lite. In turn, that the Internet is the backbone of the now indispensable governance machinery of "aggregate intelligence" or AI.

The Pakistani government (ISI) is very obviously quite capable of pinpointing all its own assets, much as they purportedly did with bin Laden in Islamabad, right? What they are not capable of doing at this time, and what has become an indispensable tool for modern livestock management, is perform reliable, repeatable ad hoc social network analysis.

Getting rid of all those rogue devices off their "network" with which a userID cannot consistently be associated is the key to having this capability. Blacklisting every non-registered or non-attributable SIM is a damn good start on establishing the baseline for this mode of control.

So while I agree with you that the narrative in the story is bit cockamamie, i absolutely understand why the Pakistani government is going to the trouble of performing this exercise.

Ed Dunn said...

Those rouge devices can be extrapolated through the towers signal strength and their ID is the actually handshaking session ID with the cell tower correct? So filter out the "official" IDs associated with a SIM and the rouge ones, let them keep pinging the towers which will allow the gov to gather a pattern.

This goes back to the flawed science of tracking identities instead of tracing activity. In the case of the attacker that used another woman cell phone - the activity would have mattered more than who the phone was registered to. What is a kid take another kid RFID tag? Isn't the activity of any RFID tag the truth data to capture?

CNu said...

So, if we have any confidence in the account of the fingerprint gathering exercise, and i see no reason to doubt that part of the story, we're left to draw our own conclusions about the government's real underlying motives.

Golddigger Prank Exegesis....,