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It is natural that millions of mobile phone subscribers face tremendous pressure in sale centers in malls and business centers of Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du) after everyone suddenly started registering their phone numbers after three months of indifference to “My Number, My Identity” campaign. The campaign was launched by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and began to register numbers on 17 July 2012. The deadline was supposed to be tomorrow but Etisalat did not cut service from those who missed the deadline until further notice.

Those who missed the deadline of updating their personal information and biometric data in the database of telecommunication service providers in the UAE and ensuring that the SIM card they are using is registered in their name, a procedure that should take no more than few minutes and does not require the ID card were occupied with spreading rumors and running counter campaigns to scare people off.

They scared people by claiming that their calls and secrets will fall in the hands of the security authorities and that they will lose their freedom among other ungrounded claims. They forgot that the campaign mainly focuses on protecting the privacy of people after studies showed that some people exploit numbers that are not in their names and their owners end up being involved in civil and criminal cases.

We hoped that the campaign leads to more awareness for people and not negligence and indifference towards an important issue that mainly affects them. It is noted however that nationals and expatriates alike do not pay much heed to and do not comply with official decisions that are issued out of public interest and welfare. Emirates ID is a case to note. Many people do not start thinking about such decisions except when late fees are imposed.

Although registering mobile numbers is for free and is done quickly and easily in addition to the easy procedure of transferring the ownership of the SIM card from the actual owner of the number to its user, people still respond to decisions only if late fees and charges are imposed. Emirates ID had to go through a tedious scenario of extending deadlines and giving one chance after another so that people can finally register last minute and cause pressure, confusion and delay. 

We hope that in such cases, there will be no exceptions and deadline extensions, but rather a strict application of any official decision within the set deadline.

 

Fadhilah Al Maeni, Al Bayan newspaper
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