Minister: Unlicensed cellphone chip vendors face jail

Prison will be the penalty for vendors who illegally sell cell phone chips, Communication and Information Technology Minister Khaled Negm, told Al-Masry Al-Youm hours after he officially limited the sale of mobile phone chips to official service providers.
“Chips are abundant on the market and our aim, along with security authorities, is to prevent the sale of those chips,” the minister said in an exclusive statement.
He said his decision to limit the chips’ distribution to official providers was made to combat terrorist operations where perpetrators rely on those chips.
Egypt's National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority director said in February that seven million lines without data had been canceled. The authority said activating those lines without providing the required data in advance leads to the use of those lines in criminal activities.
The minister’s decision will be applied during a temporary three-month period starting Wednesday, May 20.
The total number of mobile phone subscribers in Egypt was down by 5.4 percent in January 2015, amounting to 95.5 million people, compared with 100.31 million in January 2014, according to the Communications and Information Technology Ministry.  
There are three cell phone service companies in Egypt: Vodafone, Etisalat and Mobinil. State-owned Telecom Egypt is vying for a forth network.
In a related story, Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa, the country’s top Islamic body responsible for the release of religious edicts, said Wednesday the sale and activation of cell phone lines without officially registering users’ data is religiously forbidden.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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