The government issued a sub-decree on registering identification for SIM cards to prevent and reduce the use of SIMs that are stolen or smuggled and especially to protect the health, safety and rights of mobile phone users.

The sub-decree, dated on February 3, 2023, outlines the use of a SIM identification registration system and is comprised of 15 chapters and 43 articles.

The system also aims to enhance the quality of telecommunication services, promotes honest and transparent competition and contribute to national budget revenue.

The registration system must comply with some guidelines, including accuracy of SIMs and their registration, except for SIMs used by tourists or travellers from abroad who stay in Cambodia less than 60 days.

“SIM identification registration can be done after receiving a certification for recognition as types and stamps of technical declaration. SIM users can report and ask mobile phone operators to suspend their service in case they lose their SIMs to theft and they can retain their number by purchasing a replacement,” the sub-decree stated.

If someone recovers their SIM card, the user has a right to ask mobile phone operators to resume their SIM service. The terms and the procedures of reporting lost SIM cards and recovering them were to be defined by the Minister of Post and Telecommunications.

Moeun Tola, executive director of the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (CENTRAL) welcomed the sub-decree, saying it aims to protect the safety and the rights of users.

He was concerned, however, that the registration system's true aim may be to facilitate spying or tracking certain people or for censoring them.

“Before, mobile operators were allowed to sell SIM cards without any paperwork involved ... As I said earlier, if the sub-decree is established to protect the people, we welcome it,” he said.

Chun Vat, head of the ministry’s General Department of Information and Communication Technology, declined to comment on the matter, saying that he had no information nor did he participate in drafting the sub-decree.

He referred reporters to Khov Makara, undersecretary of state at the telecoms ministry, who could not be reached for comment on March 9.