After the launch of PTA’s phone blocking system DIRBS in Pakistan, illegal smartphone registration is on the rise and according to last week’s report around 45,000 IDs were used for fake registration of smartphones. In its efforts to curb the misuse of identity for mobile registration, PTA has unveiled a new two-step authentication process in DIRBS to confirm the identity of a person who wants to register any phone on the system.
It is worth mentioning here that PTA had started blocking the unregistered or illegal smartphones and feature phones in Pakistan earlier this year in April, after a delay of several months. However, people had found a way out of this. The blocked phones from PTA are being unblocked in the black market for as low as Rs. 1000 depending on the price of the handset.
How the two-step authentication works in DIRBS
DIRBS mobile app now gives users the option of two-step authentication. When an applicant enters a mobile number, it is authenticated with the biometrically verified mobile number database. Afterward, a one-time password (OTP) is sent to the user’s mobile phone via SMS. And when the user enters OTP code, an application is sent to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for verification.
If somehow the application gets failed to authenticate the identity of the user, the application is put on hold. The system will then require the applicant to upload a copy of their passport, CNIC & immigration stamp pictures. Once the applicant’s identity gets validated, the system will transmit the request to FBR.
With the help of DIRBS system, a total of 357 million IMEI were registered as of January 15, 2019, according to official documents. In addition, the number of non-compliant sets which were blocked by PTA after January 15, 2019, stands at 9.57 million, whereas another 10.66 million GSMA valid IMEI were also blocked by the Pakistani regulator.
It must be noted that PTA should also have to target the malicious actors of the black market who are unlocking these phones illegally, with the help law enforcement agencies to ensure that the mobile phones which PTA is blocking remain blocked forever unless the due taxes are paid.