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Background

In Romania I have heard on numerous occasions about the use of anonymous prepaid cards in relation to various crimes and that they should be banned by requiring persons to register with their ID when buying them.

Following a very serious crime, the Government has issued an Ordinance to force mobile services providers to stop selling prepaid cards without an ID.

Austria had a similar approach.

Coming to the question

I am trying to understand if the European Union influences in any way these things. I have read this article about lowering the threshold on prepaid cards, but I cannot find anything related to requiring an ID to buy such cards.

Question: Does the European Commission impose or at least recommend the registration of prepaid SIM cards?

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  • I think that's a bit delicate when it comes to privacy... – miep Sep 2 '19 at 14:53
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    Romania's measures are a complete security theater as you can always go to a neighboring country and buy a full truck of anonymous SIM cards with free roaming across the EU. See this related question – JonathanReez Sep 2 '19 at 15:05
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    Poland introduced such a measure 3 or 4 years ago. Now there's a vibrant grey market for registered SIM cards. Why grey and not black? Because last time I checked resale of registered prepaid SIM cards was perfectly legal. – M i ech Sep 3 '19 at 7:11
  • Note the term "prepaid card" is ambiguous. The first part of this question seems to be talking about prepaid SIM cards for mobile phones, the second part seems to be talking about prepaid payment cards. – Peter Green Aug 3 '20 at 15:28
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The European Commission can only propose legislation. As already touched upon in the question, roughly between 2010 and 2016, when terrorism was high on the agenda, many European countries individually established such legislation on their own as a part of law and order policies. As security is a matter of internal affairs, EU institutions historically have little say and would only make a recommendation for national legislation if someone sets it on the agenda. This would mean that lawmakers identify this as a problem they want to solve/coordinate on a European level - this does not seem to be the case.

Edit: Just found this EU report about "Evidence for necessity of data retention in the EU" from 2013 https://web.archive.org/web/20130818090241/http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/pdf/policies/police_cooperation/evidence_en.pdf on page 5 it says (in a footnote...): "In Germany, the proportion of private internet users with such flat-rate plans rose from 18% in 2005 to 87% in 2009. The proportion of users of prepaid services varies, from about 20% in Finland to about 80% in Portugal. Some Member States (Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Slovakia and Spain) require registration of all pre-paid SIM cards, though there is no evidence of the efficacy of this as a law enforcement measure."

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