Send the government your fingerprints or lose your cell phone service

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As with most developing nations, mobile use in Pakistan has been growing at a dizzying pace these past few years with an estimated 100+ million citizens using cell phones. The Pakistani government wants to use this to its advantage and, for what it claims is an effort to avoid another disaster like December’s Taliban schoolhouse massacre, will now require cell phone users to verify their identity by sending the government copies of their fingerprints. 

In an effort to create a national biometric database, Pakistani authorities are giving cell phone users an ultimatum: Verify your identity by submitting your fingerprints to the government, or their phone service will be shut off. Mobile use in Pakistan has skyrocketed over the past decade, and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority estimates that more than 100 million citizens use cell phones. The measure is a response to the Taliban schoolhouse massacre in Peshawar last December, where more than 140 students and teachers were killed. In the days leading up to the massacre, the six perpetrators communicated through cellphones that were registered to a Peshawar woman unrelated to the attack. By making sure every SIM card in Pakistan is traceable to an identity and a set of fingerprints, officials say they hope to prevent such an attack from happening again.

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