Saudi Arabia’s watchdog the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has increased the penalty for companies and shops illegally distributing mobile SIM cards to SAR25 million (USD6.67 million) from the SAR5 million previously charged for the felony, with the notion that the fine could be doubled if there is a recurrence of the offence, Zawya reported. CITC spokesman Sultan Al-Malik also said that individuals purchasing such SIM cards would be guilty of identity theft. According to the royal decree, local municipalities will be given the authority to impose the penalties on companies and shops, while expatriates accused of violating the ban will be referred to the police, the Labour office and Passport department.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the CITC fined unnamed cellcos SAR90 million for allowing the sale of ‘unlicensed’ pre-paid SIM cards to customers in January 2011. A year later, the CITC said the government planned to push ahead with a scheme to register all pre-paid mobile users. The regulator ruled that all pre-paid card registrations must be accompanied by the user’s ID card number, to combat anonymous use of pre-paid phones for criminal activities. The scheme was eventually introduced in July 2012.