A passport will be needed to buy a British mobile phone

By Mark O’Neill
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

Government plans are currently being drawn up which will see customers having to produce their passport if they want to buy a pre-paid mobile phone in Great Britain.   The details on that passport would then be registered on a new database set up to tackle crime and terrorism.

Currently, if you buy a pre-paid phone in Great Britain, you can pay in cash and not have to show any form of identification.   This makes pre-paid phones highly popular with criminals and terrorists who can buy a mobile without leaving any traces, use it a few times, then throw it away.

But now the government wants to change all that by requiring all mobile phone buyers to show a passport or another “official form of identification” which I suppose would include something like a driving licence.

Needless to say, the civil rights campaigners are up in arms over it, quoting “1984”, “slippery slope” and all the other usual analogies and the liberal politicians are promising not to vote for it when it comes before parliament.

Personally, I can see the one gaping hole in the plan right away – if a criminal or terrorist knows that they can’t buy a phone in the shops anymore, they’ll probably just steal one instead.  Can you imagine the huge black market in stolen mobile phones that will spring up if this law is passed?

What do you think?   If this law was passed in your country, how would you feel about it?   Necessary to defeat crime and terrorism or just another government excuse to extend their reach into your life?

5 Responses to A passport will be needed to buy a British mobile phone

  1. You can quote 'ol Abe and chant the civil liberties mantra, but criminals are ahead of the curve when it comes to using technology to their advantage.

  2. This has been the norm in Australia as long as I can remember (we sell prepaid mobiles where I work). Purchase of a prepaid mobile or start-up sim pack requires ID – either 1 photo ID or 2 non-photo IDs. Nobody ever complains about it except the young kids who don't have any ID. And of course, we're not identifying the user of the phone, just the purchaser. A lot of prepaid mobiles are bought as gifts.

  3. In my country you can buy just a pre-paid SIM, without the phone. No ID required. Of course, when I was in high school we had like 7 "bomb threats" – all fake – from students who didn't want to stay in class anymore. So I would like the idea that every SIM is issued on ID and the cell phone companies know who that person is. Regarding the steeling part – they've stole my phone(same model-I called it hex or really bad luck) 2 times and in both cases they gave me my SIM back (assaulted with a knife in both cases, they took just the phone and gave me my SIM – very nice of them – grrr). If they didn't gave me my SIM back in the next min I would be on a public phone blocking the SIM (we have a free number to do that).

  4. The honest folks who are buying prepaid because they can't afford a contract will be unduly burdened because they are also the members of society least likely to have a passport.

  5. I think the phone is not a problem, since you can buy unlocked phones all over the world at a decent price.

    And buying a SIM card isn't that much of an issue for terrorist (people with no good intention), since (like you said) they can buy them on the black market… By hundreds!!!!!!

    Well isn't that a clever law in order to make things more difficult for the "normal" people????

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