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back to article UK mulls ban on tiny mobiles to block prison smugglers

UK police and government officials are considering a plan to block the sale of small mobile phones designed to look like car key fobs after confiscating an increasing number of the mini-mobes from prisoners. Car key fob phone Phone too popular with prisoners "A range of techniques – including body orifice security scanners …

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How in hell do you go about banning phones on grounds of *size*?

You can't legislate that!

"The National Trading Standards Board has also asked British retailers to stop selling the tiny telephones. It also points out that such small devices are "electrically unsafe meaning they could cause fires and injure consumers through electrocution."

I call undiluted BS. What, phones smaller than a certain size can't be made safe?

Cretins.

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Governments can legislate whatever the hell they want. They're the government.

Howinhell else do you think it's illegal to sit in the middle of London with a victoria sponge upon which has been iced the words "PEACE"?

Hopefully this stupid shit won't happen, but it wouldn't be the first time that the government has done some really stupid shit. Remember the ban on broadcasting anything said by Gerry Adams? Because apparently that'll stop the bombs going off.

Oh, no it won't, it'll just persuade the news broadcasters to use voice actors.

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Meh

Could this be a plot instigated by the phablet manufacturers?

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Anonymous Coward

Illegal?

Hand guns were made illegal and there are more in circulation than before.

Relax was banned on the radio so everyone bought it.

Banning it will just increase sales.

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Totally Agree

What complete and utter bullshit. Let's ban 7 inch tablets and go back to PC boxes the size of server rooms on the grounds you can't smuggle one up your ass into prison.

Who are these unaccountable wankers that keep making stupid decisions that treat the population as if we are all nursery school kids that cannot be trusted ?

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Re: Illegal?

It's true, until I saw this article I didn't even know these things existed, but now I want one !

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Re: Totally Agree

Let's ban 7 inch tablets and go back to PC boxes the size of server rooms on the grounds you can't smuggle one up your ass into prison.

Wait, what? You can fit a 7 inch tablet up your arse?

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I didn't even know those things existed

Want one, now!

Oh and how does the 'electrocution' thing work on something with no more than 5V inside it? Did they put a dirty great voltage doubler inside for shits n giggles?

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> How in hell do you go about banning phones on grounds of *size*?

Simple, you take each phone sold in Britain and see how if it can be inserted into the Home Secretary's arse.

The one's that will go in are banned.

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Just to echo what has already been said. They're the government. They can do whatever they want. If anybody asks 'you and what army?' they just have to point out of the window and say 'that one'...

That said the government here seems to have problems with understanding that the majority of the world is not under their control (just look at their reaction to the Guardian and their copy of the leaked files - trying to explain to them that copies exists elsewhere had no impact at all).

You ban them here, but how can you stop them being imported?

I wonder if there's a way for UK networks to block the use of such handsets on their network. Is the EMEI number linked to a make and model for example?

If getting this information is possible through this or other means then it would raise some interesting questions as to why the government prefers to opt for mass surveillance of mobile users in order to implement filters 'for the children' rather than stop children from using smartphones that are clearly inappropriate for them to use.

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Re: Illegal?

Talk about Streisand effect! I'd never heard of these things, and now I want one.

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Boffin

"Simple, you take each phone sold in Britain and see how if it can be inserted into the Home Secretary's arse"

BSi should ratify the Home Secretary's arse as the British Standard for phone sizing.

I'd pay for that standards document, if only for the appendix with diagrams of the test procedures!

Err.. maybe not... I just remembered Theresa May is Home Secretary - if the diagrams are too accurate I'd want to gouge out my eyes with blunt spoons afterwards!

Eye protection is strongly recommended ------------------------->

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"Simple, you take each phone sold in Britain and see how if it can be inserted into the Home Secretary's arse.

The one's that will go in are banned."

Or you could just compare them with his head, since that fits.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Illegal?

Your logic is flawed because you have not made a cause and effect case.

Handguns were made illegal because of their increasing use. Whether making them (more) illegal has slowed down the rate of increase or not is a moot point, but you cannot assume that the increase is caused by a ban.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Illegal?

Never heard about these little boys till I read this article. Two on order now for my evil twins, less than £80 the pair...result

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Re: Illegal?

Hand guns weren't banned as such, just the owning and selling of them in most circumstances.

Likewise, the Relax record wasn't banned, only playing it on the BBC. If it had been banned the shops couldn't have legally stocked it.

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Re: Illegal?

Handguns were made illegal because of their increasing use.

Handguns were restricted beyond all reasonable belief and made incredibly hard to use legally because of a psychopathic fuckwit who shot up a school.

A psychopathic fuckwit who was properly licensed and belonged to a gun club. The new laws would have done approximately fuck all to stop another Dunblane.

But hey, a few politicians managed to wave their wangs all over the telly and take advantage of emotionally damaged mothers and fathers to promote their own agenda, so that's alright then.

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Re: Illegal?

Handguns were restricted beyond all reasonable belief and made incredibly hard to use legally because of a psychopathic fuckwit who shot up a school.

...and no-one has done it since.

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Re: Illegal?

I'd seen AMPS phones this small 20 years ago but never saw a GSM one. Now I want it.

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Re: Illegal?

...and no-one has done it since.

Those laws would have, and will do, nothing at all to stop another Dunblane.

Besides, I'm sure people said what you're saying, after the various restrictions on rifles after Michael Ryan decided to turn Hungerford into a war zone. August 1987. I'm old enough to remember it, are you?

They'll say it when the next fuckwit shoots someone up and we're all banned from owning peashooters.

Give me a length of pipe no longer than your arm, and an ammo belt of craftily modified syringes, and I'll blowdart an embolism into you from across the street or further, which is about as accurate as you'll get with a pistol anyway.

Guess we'd better watch out for those plumbers.

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Anonymous Coward

"BSi should ratify the Home Secretary's arse"

I'm not sure about this. I'm inclined to agree that the physical phone doesn't come under the scope of CCITT, and probably not even the IEC, but surely the BSi should only standardise something that applies across the entire EU, or is indeed a worldwide standard..

If this is made an ISO project that would probably help, but then we would need a table of equivalents - what is the US or Chinese equivalent of the Home Secretary? Perhaps they should concentrate on getting an EU Directive - there must be some EU wide agreement on the equivalent job titles for the shittiest job in Government.

I volunteer for the relevant national committee. As someone with some experience in statistics, I will be delighted to spend days discussing the proper statistical approach to designing the perfect Head of Internal Security Rectal Model. Will it be time variant as postholders change?

Alternatively if something more directly practical is envisaged, we will need to work out the retest procedure every time there is a change of Head of Internal Security, and how we track all of these small devices so that the owners can be instructed to present them for testing. And what they do with them afterwards. We really do not want any more outbreaks of C Diff than can be helped.

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Facepalm

I'm failing to see why prisoners having things they shouldn't have - in a supposedly controlled, secure environment - should result in nobody else being able to buy said item.

Who's being punished here?

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Facepalm

The government "can" legislate that, but it would be both utterly nuts AND it would also be utterly unenforceable.

If the issue is with prisons, then just block the signals inside the prisons* then it doesn't matter at all what size phones prisoners might or might not have.

* if this is currently not legal, legislate to make it legal - at least that's legislation that is both sensible and enforceable

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Re: Illegal?

Those laws would have, and will do, nothing at all to stop another Dunblane.

However no-one has done it since.

Besides, I'm sure people said what you're saying, after the various restrictions on rifles after Michael Ryan decided to turn Hungerford into a war zone. August 1987. I'm old enough to remember it, are you?

Yes I am. You perhaps forget the more recent loony in Whitehaven who thankfully only had a shotgun rather than a semi-automatic assault rifle.

Where the law doesn't prevent it, it does at least reduce the damage.

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Big Brother

Re: Illegal?

"Never heard about these little boys till I read this article. Two on order now for my evil twins, less than £80 the pair...result"

Mehe - that's you on a watch list now!

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Re: Illegal?

Where the law doesn't prevent it, it does at least reduce the damage.

Bird committed suicide in the woods. Perhaps he just ran low on ammo and needed the last round for himself or perhaps he had momentarily come to his senses long enough to end it permanently. The law didn't "reduce the damage" to 12 dead and 11 injured. The law didn't prevent any deaths at all since there was nothing in the law that stopped him from continuing.

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Re: Totally Agree

You are Goatse and I claim my five pounds

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"Governments can legislate whatever the hell they want. They're the government."

Only because people are too pussy whipped by authority to do anything about it.

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Re: Illegal?

>Two on order now for my evil twins[…]

You bought one for each testicle?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Illegal?

A psychopathic fuckwit who was properly licensed and belonged to a gun club.

The psychopathic fuckwit in question was known to be unstable, one gun club refused to accept him and told the police that he should not be granted a firearms licence (which should have been the end of it), but was still granted one. The official who was responsible for that is the real fuckwit and as far as I am concerned has blood on his hands.

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I have a large mobile phone, in the best possible case I have to charge it up every few days. In a prison I'm sure there must be some way to stop anyone who smuggles a phone in to stop them getting at anything that would let them charge it.

Although, if they do manage to smuggle in a charger as well, that makes it a bit harder, especially with a uk plug!

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They don't need to smuggle chargers only charged-up batteries.

My phone lasts 3 weeks on one charge (not all phones are iPhones/clones)

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Look up something called the "ThinCharger" (awesome for traveling light within the UK). A UK plug-based charger doesn't need to be that big.

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Look up the definition of 'charger' in Henri Chariere's book, "Papillione" ! Pretty sure this was written before we had mobile phones.

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Many of these are text only. Those phones could be on standby for days. Even longer when turned off as you down want it to go off when the guards are around.

Some modify some of the electronics in their cell to charge them too. Hit the right spot in your cell's TV or radio and you might get something close to the charging voltage.

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chargers

According to media, are normally smuggled in sans-plug and used by poking wires into shaver outlets or light sockets.

I just keep thinking of Papillion.

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ps2

Playstations are allowed in prisons and mobiles are charged through usb. All ps2s are supposed to have port blockers installed but rarely do. Enforcing this would be the easiest way to curb mobile use as iv yet to see a charger that would go up someones ass

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What has it got to do with

SOCA ? Since when was selling/buying a small mobile phone a serious organised crime.

SMMT ? They only resemble key fobs, auto makers don't make them. Doh, doh and thrice doh.

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Re: What has it got to do with

I imagine the reason SOCA are involved is the fact that many of these phones aren't used to call family at home but instead to continue running their organised crime empire whilst behind bars.

As for the key fobs, whilst the auto makers probably don't manufacture them, they are the people who commission and aprove the design and no doubt own exclusivity and probably the copyright for the design of their particular models.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What has it got to do with SOCA?

Want some serious organised crime? There's an agency for that!

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Re: What has it got to do with SOCA?

I want comically organised crime... is there an agency for that?

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Joke

Re: What has it got to do with SOCA?

The Lafia

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Re: What has it got to do with SOCA?

IIRC the Manchester Serious Crime Squad was responsible for perpetrating most serious crimes in Manchester during the 1970s.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What has it got to do with SOCA?

Given that a Commons Select Committee want to ask some questions of the head of SOCA about why he didn't prosecute bent private investigators employed by e.g. firms of solicitors, and indeed claimed that to reveal the perpetrators would in some way breach their human rights (firms of solicitors have human rights?), perhaps not a lot has changed.

Quis custodiet &c.

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Pint

Re: What has it got to do with SOCA?

"I want comically organised crime... is there an agency for that?"

"The Lafia"

Oh very good, sirs... Beers are on me

(and I've always wondered about... disorganised crime)

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Anonymous Coward

And in other news...

Low-cost flying cars have finally gone into mass production. However they are banned in the UK because of the risk they could be used to break prisoners out of jail.

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Re: And in other news...

......and cake. It may have a file in it.

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Coat

Re: And in other news...

Cakes are now being detained at Heathrow.

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Jammin'

> prison officials confiscated 7,000 phones and SIM cards from prisoners

What's so hard about installing electronic jamming equipment to make whatever phones do find their way in, useless?

We know from the prevalence of drugs in chokey that it's impossible to stop people (whether vistors, guards or other workers) from bringing in illicit goods, or even tossing them over the walls. So surely a better solution - assuming the authorities want one that works, rather than one which merely placates the whiners - would be to remove the service that the phones rely on.

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Re: Jammin'

Teach them to spell "Faraday". :D

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