Another typical Big Brother move or a necessary evil?
According to widespread paper talk today the government is planning to introduce a new law requiring all PAYG customers to present an official form of ID, such as a passport or photo driving licence along with a valid home address before their sims will be handed over. The move is believed to be an attempt to combat terrorism with the currently anonymous pre-paid market highly popular with nefarious types.
Any such move would create a super sized database where users can be tracked and pinpointed by their mobile phone signal should suspicion about their circumstances arise. As for the size of the task itself, of the 72m mobile phones in Britain more than half (an estimated 40m) are said to be on prepay with network Vodafone admitting 72 per cent of its 18.5m UK customers use PAYG.
The move while - potentially - venerable in theory also throws up a number of issues:
- Everyone will need a passport
- A black market in pre-registered sim cards will emerge with even higher phone crime a net result - particularly in poorer areas
- It does nothing to stop criminals from using foreign sims and roaming - other than hit them in the pocket (not much of a concern to your average suicide bomber)
That said, with the action now sealed into a draft Communications Data Bill (which quietly closed for public consultation back on 6 August) we may no longer have a say in the matter. And that, if nothing else, is perhaps the most worrying aspect of all...