Users of around 1.4 million SIM cards have registered the cards under their real names since the second phase of the Hong Kong government’s Real-name Registration Programme rolled out on March 1.

Around 1 million SIM cards were issued in March, all of which were registered under the scheme. Owners of another 400,000 cards issued before March also completed real name registration last month, according to a document submitted to the Legislative Council (LegCo) by the Office of the Communications Authority ahead of a meeting on Tuesday.

Photo: Selina Cheng/HKFP

The Telecommunications (Registration of SIM Cards) Regulation (the Regulation) took effect in September last year, with telecommunications operators given until March 1 to set up a registration system.

Users of pre-paid SIM cards bought after March 1 must register them to their Chinese and English names, where applicable, as well as their identity document number and date of birth. They also have to upload a copy of their identification documents.

For those who bought their SIM cards before March this year, they have until February 23, 2023, to register them or they will be deactivated.

File photo: Robin Worrall, via unsplash.

Prior to the launch of the scheme last year, the government said that the regulation was designed to combat crimes including drug trafficking, terrorist activities, as well as phone scams. Documents about the programme submitted to LegCo in March last year did not mention matters of national security.

However, Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office Deng Zhonghua cited the registration scheme as one of a series of policies to protect China’s national security in a speech in July last year.

Operator license suspended

From a total of 32 local telecommunications operators, five failed to meet the March 1 deadline, according to the recent LegCo document.

Four of those five operators eventually set up an electronic registration system before March 29, while the remaining operator’s license was temporarily suspended after it failed to launch a system before the deadline.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.