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back to article Govt ponders proof-of-ID law for future phone purchases

The bother of choosing between an 18-month contract or a high up-front price may soon be the least of your worries when buying a new mobile phone, because you may soon be required to prove your identity before you're allowed a new handset. The government is said to be drawing up plans to force all UK mobile phone buyers to …

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Airstrip One...

Seems perfectly in line with the fundamentals of Ingsoc. My only question is do you have to register your phones to the Ministry of Love or the Ministry of Truth?

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Black Helicopters

Another "well" thought out idea by gov.uk

So will ebay'd phones require re-registration?

Maybe an entire new department issuing p5's (like the car registration document v5....)

All this will do will increase phone theft/hacking as those with something to hide will get their phone from a non legal source ie nicked and recoded or bought by a friend of a friend of a friend etc.

more muppetry from Brown & Co....

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Nev

Already the case in France

They even blocked all the PAYG mobiles a few years ago until

you went in with an ID card to your provider to get it unblocked.

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Department of Fuckwits

Lets see...ebay?

Or how about I buy a phone for someone else, say my wife?

Or "Oh sorry, I had it nicked in a pub, but it was PAYG worth a £10 so not worth reporting it to the police."

Where do they get these morons from?

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Phones or sim cards?

How will requiring an ID check link people to mobile numbers? Someone can buy a new pay monthly phone and stick their old sim into it.

And how will they handle sales of used phones and cheep sim cards on ebay?

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What a crock

It will never fly. Too many people don't have a passport and nobody has ID cards.

Both the would-be phone buyers and the networks/sellers will kick the shit out of NuLabour if they try it on and people can't buy phones..

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Mo

Presumably then…

…you'll be required to provide your passport number when making a call from a payphone?

Or will they all just have CCTV and facial recognition?

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Coat

FFS!

At this rate we're going to need to provide proof of identification before using a public convenience! No, no Ms Smith, that was NOT a suggestion...

Mine's the one without the ID card. I wiped my arse on it and flushed it away.

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Anonymous Coward

retards

how about I get a bent pay as you go phone off the market? F--- your SS style fail.

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Unhappy

Makes me glad...

...that I no longer work on a mobileco's online shop, 'cos I'd be buggered to know how this requirement could be implemented online.

I suppose at least the mobilecos have a high-street retail network where you could go with your ID to verify your online purchase, but then why bother buying online anyway?

But how's an operation like Amazon supposed to do it - have the delivery bod check your passport on the doorstep?

Can we have a fasces or swastika icon for comments on stories concerning the UK's onward march to fascism please?

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Anonymous Coward

Just me, or has Britain lost it?

Speaking as an outsider I have noticed a creeping authoritarianism in both Britain and the US of late which worries me, primarily because our politicians tend to follow your lead - they can strip you lot of all your rights as far as I'm concerned ;), between the ID cards, the proposed "Hadrian's firewall" and clamping down on un-monitored communication all in the name of terror (prevention|creation) taken in conjunction with the recent misapplication of anti-terrier law to the Icelandic banks one begins to fear for the west's freedom in a way we havn't since Kafka.

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b
Stop

strict safeguards" will be put in place

and I'm Napolean.

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Yet another...

piece of the totalitarian state jigsaw revealed.

Papers Please, Citizen.

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Coat

@ Mike Crawshaw

Don't give them ideas.

They would absolutely **love** for you to have to prove your identity before using a toilet. Simplistically it can be spun as a vandal-deterrent; but the ability to link a name to any substances found in bodily wastes would be a control-freak's wet dream.

Mine's the one with a poppy seed bagel (and a bit of blackened tinfoil) in the pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

@Just me, or has Britain lost it?

No, not just you, Britain has lost it and anyone who is able to leave is leaving.

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ID cards again

This is ID cards by the back door, when people who look under 25 have to have ID to buy alchohol and you need ID to get a SIM, both of which young people will be very interested in, but more importantly young people are less likely to winge about getting an ID card, they will consider it a "rite of passage", and suddenly *most* people will have an ID card and will outnumber those who don't want a national ID card.

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Stop

And foreign phones?

What's going to happen with SIM cards bought in other countries? Are they going to stop tourists from using their phones in the UK? And international businessmen?

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'Cos a phone bought almost anywhere else in the world won't work in the UK?

'Cos a phone bought almost anywhere else in the world won't work in the UK? OK they can block non-registered IMEIs, but bang goes roaming by visitors to the UK so I doubt the telecos will have nothing to say about that.

So that reduces the legislation to the typical 'Crock 'o Shite'® Legislation we are becoming used to that can only be used to monitor those who actually are law abiding UK citizens.

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Encroachment.

"Too many people don't have a passport and nobody has ID cards."

My cynical side says this is exactly the point of the exercise - jack up the cost of a passport to "bleeding expensive" (already done), require identification for a common, frequent purchase that a large number of people make, and then say, "well matey, you can fork out for a passport, or for a mere taxpayer-subsidised £10 you can join our leaky Database Of Every One And Every Thing and have your spanking new Nokia by the start of next week."

I'm guessing that from the way Ms Smith's department are currently proceeding with their hastily-pulled opinion websitery, the "yoof" have been singled out as the point of insertion for ID cards into members of everyday society - oh look, a sector of society relatively unlikely to have a passport, to whom the cost of one of the biometric jobs is an appreciable wedge of dosh, and who really, really like to chop and change their mobile phones with a frequency on a par with Intel's latest CPU offerings.

Given that "economy" is looking a slightly shaky campaigning foundation for the next election, suggest formerly-New Labour go with, "we know what's best for you (and you most certainly do not)" as a slogan.

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Black Helicopters

@Just me, or has Britain lost it?

No, you're spot on.

Gorging Brown is a control freek and loves to meddle in our private lives. He hates the notion of not being able to control every aspect of something. He wants to control the bonus culture in the City of London, so he tries to nationalise the banks. Barclays was the "one that got away" and he was furious.

I suspect he would, if he could get away with it, have us all chipped like dogs and cats so that some secrete police with an RF scanner would be able to locate us at the push of a button.

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@Wize

>How will requiring an ID check link people to mobile numbers? Someone can buy a new pay monthly phone and stick their old sim into it.

The phone will still have the same imei number which is what will most likely be used for tracking.

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Flame

Not enough time for this bull$hit.

New Labia are just clutching at publicity now. They want to be perceived as the 'tough on crime/tough on terror' party that they have failed to be for the last decade. They know they are going to get a roasting at the next general election so are basically trying to fcuk as much up as they can before then in order to make the Tories look bad however most of this bull$hit won't stick because it would take too much time to impliment.

As a constitutional monarchy our options are limited at this stage because we rely on the tories to submit a vote of no confidence or the Queen to dissolve the government and call a general election, both are unlikely to happen.

I suggest that the parties be notified that our votes will only be secured if the following things are included in a party's manifesto:

Dismantling of the trappings of the Blair government, namely the ID cards and excessive nanny state intervention.

Immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Iraq and condemnation of the US occupation.

Immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan and condemnation of the US occupation.

Immediate freeze on all government IT projects until terms can be negotiated that ensure delivery within budgets and timescales.

Cancellation of the NHS IT pork barrel.

Legislation to force senior bank staff to be culpable for future losses incurred by the banking industry.

Reversal of Browns unjustified decision to re-classify cannabis.

Review of all speed camera sites to ensure that correct signs are placed and replace them with average speed cameras where applicable. Removal of all mobile speed cameras.

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I Don't See...

Any mention of providing ID to buy a new SIM card...

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useless

So expect a marked increase in:

1) fraudulently obtained/stolen ID documents

2) fake ID documents -- does the average phone shop sales person know the difference?

3) mobile phone theft

4) back-of-a-lorry SIM card sales

5a) off the radar imports of PAYG SIMs from other countries, without such tight controls

5b) over the counter international calling cards

6) use of pay phones to call other pay phones

If I can think of 6 potential ways around it, in the space of a few minutes, I'm sure the collective minds of Johnny and Joanne Fundamentalist have thought of 12.

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Unhappy

RE: What a crock

"Too many people don't have a passport and nobody has ID cards."

Nobody has ID cards... Yet.

I suspect we'll see a number of areas where ID is suddenly required when previously it wasn't. Then suddenly the idea of an all-in-one ID 'solution' for the masses will seem sensible to those who take their propaganda on face value.

Clam.

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Paris Hilton

Best to not make unimplementable laws.

They cost money, deliver nothing, breed resentment, and ultimately get revoked. Egg on face ensues.

Consider the impracticalities:

* Existing mobiles: Which mobile phone company is going to be the first to call their existing subscribers in for passport verification and a body cavity search?

* Second hand mobiles: Am I obliged to act as Mad Jacqui's henchman when I sell my mobile on TatBay? Do I need to invest in a pair of rubber gloves? How will Mad Jacqui ensure that I use the correct procedure when checking out/up the purchaser?

* Grey market: Not all new mobile phones are bought from the incumbent telcos, you know, Jacqui

* Stolen mobiles: Oh yes, Mad Jacqui was going to lock them all up without charge, so baddies won't be able to 'misuse' mobiles, right?

* Data storage: We can trust you with our personal data, Mad Jacqui, can't we?

Then there are the impracticalities of tracing everyone's emails (no really, Mad Jacqui wants to do this too!)

Paris - because she may repress my liberty anytime she wants to

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Why?

Why do they need this, surely they should be monitoring every phone call in real-time. As soon as a political agitator has been heard simply locate the cell they are in and pull everyone off the streets.

At least some of those people would have committed a crime!

Sorry got to go, they found my book on how to make fireworks - see you guys inside.

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Black Helicopters

Relevant book

"Little Brother" by Cory Doctorow (ISBN-13: 978-0007288427) -- San Francisco based but all extremely relevant to the way our surveillance society is heading.

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Does Anyone Really Believe This?

This is a comment from the office of the Information Commissioner on what they think the government might do. This is what the government does when it wants to test the water - a comment from someone in part of the government, (preferably as far as possible from ministers) to see if the population objects. The government hasn't really thought this through (as is obvious to anyone with any knowledge of the technology) but they don't need to - they are just floating the idea.

The Times as so often is going along with this by not actually attributing the comment to an individual. The Register, being a better news source than The Times, needs to do more work. Yes it probably is what the government wants to do - but the story should be followed up and concrete sources shown to the readership.

Who leaked this? Is a minister prepared to back it up, or deny it? Is there a document about this?

Just as a thought - could we have a section of The Register for dumb government ideas? This isn't really a Reg. Hardware story - its a government being stupid story.

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Coat

It's a good job that

criminals and terrorists don't have false passports and ID.

And even if it was workable, it's many months away. Ample time for anyone who wants an untraceable Pay as you Go phone to stock up.

I was thinking of getting one for scambaiting use, so there are legitimate reasons for having one without wanting your details being on a lost or stolen hard disk.

Mine's the one with the slit in the lining where the RFID chip used to be.

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Splendid Idea!

Yet another well thought through idea from our beloved government.

Surely no-one would be so underhand as to use a fake ID card/passport when purchasing a new handset would they?

So we would have a massive database containing the details of every law-abiding inhabitant of this country, but not one of those pesky baddies would be on there as they don't play the game the way government think they should.

I'm still struggling to comprehend how the set of all law abiding persons is going to magically contain the set of all non-law abiding persons.

Obviously I don't understand set theory as well as our beloved leaders.

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Anonymous Coward

Anonymous speech is dangerous speech

Anonymous comments are dangerous comments.

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Black Helicopters

I have a question

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?

I'm fairly certain that those among us that voted for NuLabour didn't vote for this bollocks. This is the fourth story I've seen today that's made me wince at the opportunities for abuse of power opening up before us. They say they're doing all this to stop terrorists. Fine, assuming that all the terrorists out there know they're terrorists. What if some of them don't yet know they're terrorists? What if there's a senior civil servant out there who's two injustices away from going postal? If we centralise all this power it's not a question of if someone is going to abuse it, but when. History has shown us this on many occassions in the past.

"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely" - the first Baron Acton

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Pirate

Considering O2 et al punt free sim cards...

the only way they could check is through the IMEI number and even that can be changed... a total non-starter....what will the New Nazi's think of next?

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Black Helicopters

@Just me, or has Britain lost it?

Nearly correct. It's not creeping though - It's marching, at double time.

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Anonymous Coward

Swiss already do this.

The Swiss already require a passport or Swiss ID before buying a SIM card. The shop will take a photocopy of the passport or ID card. This has been the case since 2003, when the Americans found that Swiss SIM cards were being used by Al-Qader.

Cant see how this will work without a universal ID card. Perhaps you will have to take a trip to the local police station to be photographed and fingerprinted before your SIM card is reactivated!!

Good Luck!!

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Even if....

...they could somehow make this idea fly for new phones, there are a million billion (approximately) handsets out there already, of which nobody has any control or identification. So unless all networks globally are told to block all IMEI numbers that are unregistered (unlikely, as not all countries will have such retarded governments as ours) then any phone that works (like the 10-y-o one I have kicking around in my desk at home) immediately slips through the net.

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Black Helicopters

@AC @Just me, or has Britain lost it?

'I suspect he would, if he could get away with it, have us all chipped like dogs and cats so that some secrete police with an RF scanner would be able to locate us at the push of a button.'

Sounds ridiculous now, but I'm sure that's where we're heading.

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Black Helicopters

Look, you know it's fuck-all to do with 'crime fighting'...

and everything to do with tightening the grip on the sheeple.

Time for these control freaks to be sent packing.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Useless

However:

1 - only serious crims will do this, however this idea is all about normal people.

2 - see (1) above

3 - phone theft is always a problem, really the victim should report the theft and have the phone / sim blocked.

4 - This will be hardest to do anything about, however expect to see legislation requiring phone companies to hold verification for every SIM they accept payment on, backed by serious penalties.

5a&b - very expensive. Won't stop criminals / terrorists but only the highest grade of tin foil hat wearing, mouth frothing, grass chewing fruitbat would pay the extras required for international mobile costs just to avoid providing ID when buying a phone. It is likely that anyone that fruitloopy will refuse to have any phone as they know the government can already track phone calls and physical locations of phones anyway.

6 - This would work but would be rather impractical. It would work for terrorists maybe but not for normal people.

Look, although I cannot see the point of demanding buyers provide ID when buying a phone you already have t when buying on contract or buying a subsidised phone and if the government wants to track your calls then it would be rather easy to do so anyway.

It is possible (with some margin of error) to track the location of a mobile phone. So if you find that phone number X (that you are trying to trace) has the following typical location characteristics:

18:00 - 07:00: home of person Y

07:00 - 08:30: travelling

08:30 - 17:00: work place of person Y

17:00 - 18:00: home of person Y

You can reasonably infer that person Y owns SIM card X. You then put a tail on them for a few days and marry the SIM location to where they travel.

Sometimes being paranoid is a waste of time because although they may actually be out to get you there is nothing you can realistically do to stop them

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Black Helicopters

@Wize

Sim cards have a SIMSN (SIM Serial Number) which uniquely identifies that SIM, while phones have a completely seperate IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) that uniquely identifies the phone. No doubt uk.gov would want both to be registered. Every time you make a call the IMEI, SIMSN and the base station the call was initiated from are all written to the 'call record' along with the number dialled and duration of call. Some tepehone switches also allow the operator to log calls that are initiated but don't get coonected. Anyway all of this is stored and then fed to the billing system to decide how much you owe (I worked on GSM billing systems in a previous lifetime). Change the SIMSN as much as you like, it won't change the IMEI and the handset can still be tracked.

That aside, this proposal sounds completely unworkable. If you have an active SIM card you can stick it in any phone you like, and if both phone and SIM come from abroad then neither is registered. Sounds a no-brainer addition to the terrorist training manual to me. And who knows their SIMSN, let alone their IMEI, if their phone goes missing. Quite unlikely that lost and stolen handsets will get locked then, unless they cost a lot.

So either the people you most want to track will never have a UK registered phone or SIM, or you decimate foreign business and tourist travel to the UK when they find that their phones go dead as they cross the border. Sounds like a lose/lose scenario to me. Increased regulation and cost for the operators, increased hassle for the legitimate users, almost zero impact on the terrorists and an own goal for the government.

George Orwell is beginning to look more than a little accurate in his story telling, maybe somebody should write a modernised version and change the title? It won't need changing much after all...

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Flame

@Not enough time for this bull$hit.

You forgot one:

we demand a referendum to decide if we want the EU Constitution Redux (aka Lisbon Treaty) to override the laws of our sovereign nation.

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Black Helicopters

Labour are keeping their promise

It's just that we misinterpreted it. The causes of crime are individual privacy, freedom of association, etc. I didn't vote for them but I still feel pretty stupid now I've realised this.

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Licenced to kill

Do you suppose they realise that they have just invented a way to ensure that someone who is being threatened by another member of their household won't be able to get a phone secretly? All the abusive husband/father/mother in law needs to do is to confiscate their passport.

If ID cards do come in I would like to be very sure that someone who confiscates a card belonging to another competent adult is sent down for a long stretch.

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Re Why? @Drunken

>As soon as a political agitator has been heard simply locate the cell they

Erm... that's rather useless for the scenario where receiving the call sets off a rather large bang.

In other news I read (I haven't bothered to look for a corroborating source) that in 2003 a mentally ill person set fire to a carton of petrol in a tube train resulting in 198 dead and 147 injured. Without wishing to make light of the subject maybe we should tag the mentally ill as they appear to be more effective than terrorists. We could start with the members of the current parliament.

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"Cant see how this will work without a universal ID card"

Well the way Gordo insists that the rest of the world follows whatever his lead of the moment happens to be, no matter how half-assed, problem solved.

The UFOs were only announced today to soften us to bringing ET under his authority too, before anyone questions universal != international.

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Meanwhile, back in the real world...

all this would do would be to make even the most basic handset a target for street crime, let alone the 'trendy' handsets.

Yet another prime example of a lack of joined-up-thinking on this one!

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Alien

Next

You will be required to use a credit card to buy minutes. No Cash allowed.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Roy Stilling

Over here in big old G it's perfectly normal to have the postman check your ID (and type in your number) in case you receive registered mail — which is always the case when you get new contracts/new SIM/new phone from your provider. But then we all have ID cards (Oh, and this year we all got our own individual lifetime-tax-ID. Even infants got one, awesome). For measures of registered mail security it does make sense on all ends, although I am never really comfortable with the number taking. The notion of having that information passed on to the government without any pressing need is sickening nonetheless.

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Such a pity

I feel so sorry for those born into the Order, New World, that's being pushed onto us. They will never know the meaning an importance of personal life and private identity. What's more, they will never miss the liberties we are losing nor those we once had. so very sad.

At least most of us over 20 will be able to reminisce about our almost unconstrained childhoods when we are older. Shame our children and grand-children will never understand our childhood memories.

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