Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Berlin — Deutsche Telekom is pressing for Europe-wide rules to stop the misuse of prepaid cellphone accounts by terrorists who use them to elude wiretapping.

The carrier will reach out to politicians, competitors and regulators to discuss possible measures, including mandatory ID checks for people who buy prepaid cards and a limit on how many each person can buy, according to a spokesman, Andreas Middel.

Tightening the rules could make it harder for terrorists and other criminals to use cellphones for their activities, taking away a tool often used to obscure their identity.

About 200,000 cards including from Magyar Telekom, were registered under one name in Hungary

Prepaid cards are loosely regulated and some European countries do not require buyers to present identification or to register. The cards can then be moved freely within the EU.

Middel said that in 2016, Deutsche Telekom’s Hungarian unit, Magyar Telekom, alerted local authorities to the misuse of prepaid cards. It later surfaced that about 200,000 cards including from Magyar Telekom, were registered under one name, he said.

Deutsche Telekom, which already requires its German shops to check for IDs when selling prepaid cards, has created a task force to explore how to combat the phenomenon.

Magazine WirtschaftsWoche earlier reported that the cards in Hungary were registered by backers of Islamic State and some of the cards were found in the bags of the terrorists who attacked Paris and Brussels in 2016.


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