Malaysia will register millions of pre-paid mobile phone subscribers to prevent the untraceable handsets being used to send threatening or slanderous SMS text messages, reports say.
Communications Minister Lim Keng Yaik said the cabinet had agreed to make it compulsory for telecommunications companies to register the existing 14 million pre-paid subscribers, as well as all new users.
Lim said the registration would begin next month in southern Malacca state and northern Penang, and be completed nationwide by the end of the year.
"Fourteen million is a huge number of users and some of them are foreigners. So it is a difficult exercise," he said according to the New Straits Times.
"But we have to start doing this as pre-paid phone card users pose a security threat because nowadays terrorists are using cellphones to detonate bombs," he said.
Members of parliament last year called for mandatory registration of prepaid mobile phone users following complaints that some users were abusing the service by sending poison text messages.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last week called on Malaysians to stop rumour-mongering through SMS (short-messaging service) and lambasted people for abusing the technology.
His critical remarks came after rumours were spread by SMS about the health of his wife, Endon Mahmood, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
In another case that has fuelled debate on the issue, police in Penang earlier this month arrested two Indonesians on suspicion of sending bomb hoaxes to the local airport through SMS.