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Passport Required To Buy Mobile Phones In the UK

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the and-dna-samples-for-special-ringtones dept.

Cellphones 388

David Gerard points out a Times Online story that says: "Everyone [in the UK] who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance. Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification at the point of purchase. Privacy campaigners fear it marks the latest government move to create a surveillance society. A compulsory national register for the owners of all 72m mobile phones in Britain would be part of a much bigger database to combat terrorism and crime. Whitehall officials have raised the idea of a register containing the names and addresses of everyone who buys a phone in recent talks with Vodafone and other telephone companies, insiders say." We've recently discussed other methods the UK government is using to keep track of people within its borders, such as ID cards for foreigners and comprehensive email surveillance.

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388 comments

It's always been required... (5, Informative)

wellard1981 (699843) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431271)

When signing up for a new mobile phone contract, you're pretty much asked for two forms of identifications, such as a driving license, passport, utility bills, etc. so this is nothing new. The new part is the national surveillance database. Thank god I'm moving out of this country.

Re:It's always been required... (5, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431311)

1. Buy a PAYG phone
2. Don't bother registering it
3. Buy top-ups using cash
4. Anonymity

Irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. The most powerful vote you have is indeed to leave.

Re:It's always been required... (2, Interesting)

wellard1981 (699843) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431331)

It wouldn't surprise me if this is applied to prepay too.

Re:It's always been required... (4, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431407)

They've always wanted some form of ID for contract phones -- to do a credit check for a start.

The news is that it's been suggested pay-as-you-go phones should require ID to purchase. This might catch some stupid criminals, but it's not going to stop terrorists (who will steal a phone, use a foreign one, or buy one second hand).

Re:It's always been required... (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431489)

Criminals will go back to using payphones and face to face meetings to discuss their criminal activities.
And stealing phones, since they're already criminals having to steal a phone isn't much of a deterrent.

Re:It's always been required... (0)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431655)

And stealing phones, since they're already criminals having to steal a phone isn't much of a deterrent.

However, if you're planning $LARGE_SPECTACULAR_JIHADIST_ATTACK, and you steal a phone, it makes you a little more likely to be caught/fail.
That said, I think it's a stupid idea.

Cell phones and terrorists (5, Insightful)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431763)

However, if you're planning $LARGE_SPECTACULAR_JIHADIST_ATTACK, and you steal a phone, it makes you a little more likely to be caught/fail.

You don't. You get a sympathizer to buy one for you, and then claim it was stolen. Enough phones are stolen anyway that this won't look suspicious.

Open societies are going to be vulnerable to terrorism. We can accept that, give up our freedoms, or be so scary nobody will want to mess with us.

Re:It's always been required... (3, Interesting)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431665)

Criminals will go back to using payphones and face to face meetings to discuss their criminal activities

That's getting harder to do in some places. They're nowhere near as ubiquitous as they once were. The lower numbers also make it easier to keep the remaining payphones under constant surveillance (if they take away your expectation of privacy on your own cel phone, the very notion of an expectation of privacy at a public payphone becomes absurd).

The great part is they have the tax payer's back to pay for it all.

So, yes, criminals and - oddly - regular citizens will have to go back to face-to-face conversations to ensure privacy (assuming there are no listening device in that randomly chosen Starbucks they're having their face-to-face conversation in).
 

Re:It's always been required... (1)

canadian_right (410687) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431931)

They are more worried about using phones as remote-controls for bombs.

Still an example of "pre-crime" and the average citizen should be outraged that the government is using something less dangerous than driving as an excuse to grossly infringe their civil rights.

Yes, that is correct. Terrorists are much less dangerous than driving to the average western citizen.

Re:It's always been required... (0)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431335)

Well shit, I didn't read TFA as you can see. They are extending it to PAYG as well.

A mobile phone is one piece of tech I can do without, and the UK is a country I'll soon be able to do without once the loose ends are tied.

Re:It's always been required... (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431571)

Can you recommend anywhere with a sane government? I'm not in a position to move right now but getting citizenship somewhere might be an option.

Re:It's always been required... (1)

TechnicalThug (799854) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431743)

Heidiland. It actually has direct democracy. Yes, bit of a wierd concept, especially if you come from a "Democracy".

Re:It's always been required... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431771)

Can you recommend anywhere with a sane government? I'm not in a position to move right now but getting citizenship somewhere might be an option.

Most of the rest of the EU, and if you're already a UK citizen you're entitled to live and work anywhere you like in the EU.

Re:It's always been required... (1)

Sapphon (214287) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431637)

the UK is a country I'll soon be able to do without once the loose ends are tied – BWAHAHAHAHA!

There, fixed that for you :-)

72 Million Mobiles? 60 Million People? (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431807)

What I still don't understand is if there are 72 million mobile phones in use in the UK, how come the UK population is only 60,776,238 (July 2007 est.) [google.co.uk] ?

I'm not convinced that almost 20% of the population have two mobiles they use at the same time.

Has anyone got a more up to date figure?

Re:72 Million Mobiles? 60 Million People? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431903)

Lots of people have a business-supplied mobile phone that they can't use for personal calls, and a personal phone. I keep a valid pre-pay SIM in my old mobile phone, so I can lend it to people who visit from abroad - it has my number programmed in to it, so they can call me easily. Lots of people don't bother transferring their number when they move from pre-pay to contract, so their pre-pay phone is still valid - even if they don't regularly use it still counts as a working mobile.

Re:It's always been required... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431423)

False. The most powerful thing you can do is find people who agree with you and organize demonstrations. This was traditionally the role of interested students. For reasons that I don't fully comprehend, political interest among students has decreased to zero in the last two decades.

Perhaps it's more convenient to bitch on Slashdot that take real action.

Re:It's always been required... (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431677)

Bwa ha ha.

There's been plenty of protests. It's just that it's morphed from the somewhat political outdoor party to an outdoor party with somewhat political overtones. It's still just an excuse for people with too much time on their hands to get together to bang on bongoes, shout, and kinda' move around in motions that are almost, but not entirely, unlike dancing, wear stupid clothing, go let hygiene slide, and sell overpriced herbs, incense, and the occasional "dose" of "medical" marijuana.

Some are organized, some are stupid, some are vulgar...

But they're about as helpful as they've always been. A caricature of the real demonstrations and protests that HAVE been effective for reasons that the organizers of college protests will never understand.

Re:It's always been required... (1)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431515)

1. Buy a PAYG phone 2. Don't bother registering it 3. Buy top-ups using cash 4. Anonymity

From TFA:

The move is targeted at monitoring the owners of Britain's estimated 40m prepaid mobile phones.

But anyway. Since otherwise online purchases would be shut down, I expect there will be an allowance to use a credit card as identification. I doubt credit card companies will bother tying phones to the stolen cards used to purchase them, they generally just reverse the merchant's charges.

Then there's the second-hand, black and grey import market.

It will also make it unavoidably obvious to the dumber criminals that they need to be cautious with mobile phones.

Re:It's always been required... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431787)

But anyway. Since otherwise online purchases would be shut down, I expect there will be an allowance to use a credit card as identification. I doubt credit card companies will bother tying phones to the stolen cards used to purchase them, they generally just reverse the merchant's charges.

They've still got to deliver the phone to an address.

Simpler and cheaper solution... (4, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431595)

1. Wait in front of mobile-selling location.
2. Spot mobile-buying victim.
3. Follow victim for a while.
4. Club victim on the head, grab bag, run.

You get: one or more mobile phones and cards, one or more forms of ID, money, credit card(s), car and/or house key(s), one or more packet(s) of tissues, one or more packet(s) of gum, various other bonuses.

Or are you perhaps one of those pussy terrorists that is afraid of hitting people on the head and only does suicide bombings?

Re:It's always been required... (3, Interesting)

dnwq (910646) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431597)

The scheme is aimed at PAYG phones! From TFA:

The move is targeted at monitoring the owners of Britainâ(TM)s estimated 40m prepaid mobile phones. They can be purchased with cash by customers who do not wish to give their names, addresses or credit card details.

The pay-as-you-go phones are popular with criminals and terrorists because their anonymity shields their activities from the authorities. But they are also used by thousands of law-abiding citizens who wish to communicate in private.

Why would it be irrelevant?

Re:It's always been required... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431619)

In the UK you havent been able to use a PAYG phone without registering it for several years now - the SIM simply isn't activated until you call and register the phone.

Re:It's always been required... (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431885)

I'm assuming this is for pay as you go phones too, but you can still just take an hour ferry ride or a 20 minute eurostar ride to france. Purchase said cell phone sans passport. Vodaphone will even charge you the same rate for international calls if you sign up for their passport plan -- plus a 79 eurocent surcharge. "Security" like this only works if the ONLY way to get a cell phone is with a passport -- if foreign phones work you effectively have a loophole

Re:It's always been required... (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431345)

They're talking about pre-pay phones.

As a result, terrorists are going to run up some hefty roaming charges as they buy foreign pre-pay phones, or just stolen/cloned ones.

Re:It's always been required... (2, Insightful)

HiVizDiver (640486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431603)

This is modded as "Funny", but the serious undertone is the same as the whole piracy argument. It only makes it more difficult for the legitimate customers. :-/

Through Europe and Thailand too (2, Interesting)

Potor (658520) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431359)

I have purchased phones in many countries through out Europe, and Thailand as well, and have always been forced to provide official ID.

Made the decision not to purchase a phone now that I have moved to the USA, so I have no idea about the States. But since I can't even get through the switchboard at my utility company without my SSN, I imagine it might be difficult to buy a phone or have a contract without ID.

Of course, that's a guess. Not saying I agree with this regime - just observing a fact.

Re:Through Europe and Thailand too (2, Informative)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431497)

You can buy anonymous prepaid phones over the counter using cash without having to provide any information about yourself.

Re:Through Europe and Thailand too (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431673)

not in thailand anymore ... they stopped that after a few bomb attacks down south and i don't think that's possible in belgium where i last lived ... but i could be wrong

Re:It's always been required... (1)

nottoogeeky (869124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431543)

Same here, i'm gone! The whole country has just went right down the shitter in the last 10 years, and it just keep getting worse.

Re:It's always been required... (2, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431617)

Others have pointed out about PAYG, etc, but:

The new part is the national surveillance database.

Indeed, and just to explain to others why this is quite significant: a "passport" will soon be morphed into the National ID Card and Database system [wikipedia.org] . Although they ultimately want it to be compulsory for all, this is proving controversial, so they're trying to sneak it in the back door by increasing the number of occasions that you'll need an ID card / passport.

Giving up the right to have a passport is a big sacrifice for people in the UK, as many travel abroad (I'm not sure of the latest timeline, but very soon it won't be possible to get a passport without paying the full cost of an ID card, and being placed on the database), but with these plans, you'll need one just to get a mobile phones.

You'll be required to pay £93 (at least [guardian.co.uk] ) for a card, to entitle you to buy a £30 phone.

Let's also not forget that this ties in with Government plans to monitor every Briton's phone calls, e-mails, and internet usage [slashdot.org] . They want you're details, so they can keep track of everyone you call or text.

See http://www.no2id.net/ [no2id.net] for more info on ID cards and the database.

Re:It's always been required... (1)

wfeick (591200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431631)

With the ability to triangulate your location based on your cell signal, this is pretty scary. It used to be the government would show up at political rallies to photograph people and license plates to figure out who the "subversives" were. Now they'll just check the cell tower logs to see whose phones are there.

It sounds like someone should start working on "Free Mesh" to allow wifi enabled phones to self organize into a communication network at political rallies.

Here in the US it has been a little harder for the government to set up all encompassing surveillance and databases, but they get around it by mandating certain information be kept by business, and then showing up with a national security letter to force secret access to the data. This also has the nice side effect of pushing the cost onto business so government doesn't have to spend their hard earned tax money.

Sigh. As the saying goes, you have three boxes that help you maintain your freedom: soap box, ballot box, ammo box. Use in that order. Too bad the UK has already been disarmed.

Re:It's always been required... (4, Insightful)

legirons (809082) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431795)

When signing up for a new mobile phone contract, you're pretty much asked for two forms of identifications, such as a driving license, passport, utility bills, etc. so this is nothing new.

That's because the mobile phone contract will be collecting money from you for the next 2 years and if you disappear they lose out so they want to know who you are.

By contrast, you can buy a SIM card with cash with nobody asking who you are (unless the shop is trying its chances at getting an address for their spam mail) because you pay in advance therefore you don't owe any further money to the shop, therefore they don't need to know who you are.

So...

(1) THIS *IS* NEW (contrary to your attempts to deny it by comparison with what private companies choose to do when they give you credit)

(2) Why in every civil-liberties story is there always someone to pop-up with a justification based on government's previous bad behaviour?

* "this isn't so much worse than what they have already" - one step at a time

* "they were already doing that but illegally, so this isn't new"

* "some other government is already doing this, so it isn't new"

* "the other political party agrees with them, so anyone who complains is a hypocrite"

* "the government did this before [during a war], so it isn't new"

Just because something resembles authoritarian behaviour of the past doesn't mean it should be accepted, quite the opposite.

Typewriters (4, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431811)

Anyone remember when typewriters had to be registered in several Eastern European countries? Being mechanical devices, each had its own unique signature (character shapes, weights, and so forth). The idea was to be able to track the origin of unapproved newsletters etc. which were typically produced via typewriter and stencil or carbon paper. This was all rendered irrelevant by the arrival of PC-based communications (a rear-guard action was fought over printers, faxes, and so forth).

Looks like the UK has just revised those old Soviet-era laws for current technology. Anonymous communication must be considered to be really subversive in the UK.

Ridiculous (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431277)

I had a similar problem when I wanted to by a SIM card in provincial Russia last month. The clerk wouldn't give me one, claiming that not only would I have to show a passport, but a Russian passport. I then just asked a friend to buy the damn thing for me. I thought it was stupid considering how, in most of the civilized world, travelers buy a SIM card from a local kiosk as a matter of course. It's sad to see the UK limiting the ease of travel, then.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431419)

I generally pick up a few pre-pay SIM cards whenever a company with decent rates is giving them away for free. They ask for my name and postal address to send them to me, but that's it. When people visit from abroad, I hand them one so that they don't have to run up a large phone bill calling local numbers (a lot of phone companies charge you for being abroad and then charge the call as if it were international, even when you're talking to someone on the in the same cell). I still have one SIM that's registered to an ex-girlfriend (American, and now back on that side of the pond) which she used when she was over here. I can't imagine that they'd get much information out of this.

Re:Ridiculous (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431517)

New Party Game:

You need n players where the larger the value, the better.
First Beer: Everybody goes out and buys x prepay cards.
Second through y Beer: exchange cards with each other in order to randomize x
Even if you're not profiting, by the time y is > 3 or 4, you will have plausible deniability when it comes time to explain where you got the prepay card from.

Re:Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431891)

Even if you're not profiting, by the time y is > 3 or 4, you will have plausible deniability when it comes time to explain where you got the prepay card from.

If anyone with one of those SIM cards gets caught up in some police matter, all you've accomplished is to make everyone at the party a potential accomplice.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431937)

NOT "Interesting". It's funny, damnit. Or at least it's a weak only-two-cups-of-coffee attempt at making a funny. You realize, Mr. Mod, that when you tag something 'interesting', somebody might believe it. And while I certainly don't want people to think that gratuitous use of alcohol or other mind altering substances is anything but terrible, I'm really get upset when this happens because it then generates a whole sub thread of poor, humor impaired Slashdotters that wander around trying to convince themselves that something useful had been mentioned.

Think of the children, please.

Re:Ridiculous (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431941)

Want to have real fun? Get students unions to organise this - in freshers' week, everyone goes and gets a prepay card. They all put them in to a big bucket, and then get one out. For bonus points, get universities to swap them around. Then, when you want a SIM, just go and ask for one from your local university. Of course, as soon as you top up at a cash machine, or with a credit card, it can be tied to you...

Re:Ridiculous (2, Funny)

turtleAJ (910000) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431465)

I then just asked a friend to buy the damn thing for me.

1. Get a Passport
2. Buy dozens of SIM cards and pre-paid phones
3. Sell them to people wanting anonymous phones
4. Profit!!!

Store Name: 1984phones.uk

Re:Ridiculous (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431519)

Difficult to buy sim cards in a lot of countries... In Japan you need a non-tourist visa if you're not a Japanese citizen as well as identification, and in Taiwan you need two kinds of identification. In China and Hong Kong you can buy them very easily. Laws on this differ very much.

Pre paid phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431281)

Do pre-paid phones apply?

Re:Pre paid phones? (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431459)

Yes, it extends to prepaid. RTFM.

It's aimed at de-anonymising prepaid, over-the-counter sales, since those of us who signed a contract and pay for our phones monthly by direct debit can already be tied to the phone number with a little digging.

Keep this up, and either the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431287)

Will soon be the safest country in the world to live, or the scariest.

Re:Keep this up, and either the UK (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431441)

Will soon be the safest country in the world to live, or the scariest.

Safety hasn't been a problem for the UK for quite some time now. I'm putting in my vote for scariest.

Holy Fsckin Sh1t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431291)

I live here - looks like I'll be stuck with the phone I've got for a while, then. FP!

no privacy here, no privacy there (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431301)

Are the USA and the UK in some sort of competition to see who can do the more thorough job of obliterating their citizens' rights to privacy?

Lately there's been a morbid tit-for-tat article exchange going on here on slash, like the USA and UK are trying to outdo one another. Just when you think the USA or UK is as bad as it gets, there's a reply.

Re:no privacy here, no privacy there (3, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431347)

Are the USA and the UK in some sort of competition to see who can do the more thorough job of obliterating their citizens' rights to privacy?

The UK has been easily winning that for years. As bad as the US has gotten, the UK is consistently worse.

Re:no privacy here, no privacy there (5, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431437)

I just don't understand it.

Both countries have rich and deep histories of democratic values.

Where is this coming from? The wealthy? Have they "won the game" and now want to lock it in?

Or has the military/security complex gotten too big?

These are now a much bigger threat than terrorism- which might at most kill a few thousand people. If the government goes bad while possessing all these powers, the death count will be much higher. And then you add in the "torture is okay/not really torture" right wing meme that's been building (Thanks! Liberals behind "24" for helping too with that!) -- it gets damn scary.

Re:no privacy here, no privacy there (4, Insightful)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431567)

No need to appeal to maliciousness to explain that which can easily be explained by incompetence (the reciprocal of "cockup over conspiracy".) It's a combination of simple-minded headline grabbing by unprincipled politicians (which isn't actually ALL of them, quite yet), plus an infuriatingly vacuous, knee-jerk, reactionary tabloid press which sets the agenda for all mainstream political debate. It's depressing, pathetic, outrageous.

However as a long-time observer of the UK domestic political scene over the last thirty years or so, I see a lot of straws in the wind suggesting that the tide is turning (pardon the mixed metaphors.) When the shadow Home Secretary resigned to protest a particular high profile issue (42 days in jail without charges), and the "surveillance state" issues in general (CCTV, ID cards, criminal record checks, ubiquitous state databases on the population, security theatre in response to 9/11, etc etc) you KNOW something's up. I noticed that Times story on their front page; it's bagged up so I could only read a couple of lines above the fold, but they managed to get "raising fears amongst privacy campaigners of the surveillance state" in there. Interestingly, a lot of this stuff is actually being picked up by the very same reactionary tabloids that howled about paedophiles, immigrants, crime, terrorism and so on, as a stick to beat the Labour government with! This strikes me as beautifully poetic justice. Brown's picked up a short-term lift on account of how he does look good wearing a dark tie and a solemn expression whilst appearing to save the world from economic catastrophe. However in six months' time, when it becomes apparent that avoiding catastrophe has not meant avoiding 2.5 or 3 million unemployed, that's going to be painted as "rescuing the fat cats". (Don't get me started on the sickening hypocrisy with which the "kick-a-banker" movement has got going over the last couple of months... )

Re:no privacy here, no privacy there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431913)

Its not maliciousness or simply incompetence. People in power seek power, simple fact. The process of seeking power over someone else, means they seek to dictate terms to someone else. The problem is, without a counter balance, they will erode limits on what they can do, as they constantly seek power. The way the remove the counter balance, is by using divide and conquer methods to divide groups of people, so no group is big enough to stand against their point of view. This method of divide and conquer is discussed in the famous documentary called, The Century of the Self, specifically, centring around the discussions on what the documentary calls, "The Engineering Of Consent". The documentary shows that as knowledge increased on how the brain works, then this knowledge was used to manipulate people into divided groups. Underlying all human behaviour, are common reoccurring patterns of behaviour. As these patterns have been learned, they can be used to influence opinions, but its not an out right influence. Its a biasing of the majority of people's opinions, to sway them in a certain political direction.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Century_Of_The_Self [wikipedia.org]

Also, you may want to read this. It explains how people in power use these methods...
http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=989785&cid=25306989 [slashdot.org]

One of the key figures in history for introducing this methodology to governments was Edward Bernays, (his uncle was Sigmund Freud).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays [wikipedia.org]
e.g. "In Propaganda (1928), his most important book, Bernays argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy:"

The term Public Relations was created by Edward Bernays, to hide its original name, which was Propaganda, as Propaganda has negative connotation's. Public Relations sounds more friendly, yet it is actually simply Propaganda, used by both business and governments.
 

Re:no privacy here, no privacy there (3, Insightful)

Skreems (598317) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431601)

Both countries do indeed have rich and deep histories of democratic values, but the average citizen in either country couldn't tell you the first thing about that history. They can recite who won the last 5 seasons of Survivor, and the last celebrity to pull a Basic Instinct while getting out of a taxi, but ask any real question (do we have a state religion? when was "In God We Trust" added to our money? what is the 4th amendment, and why is it important?) and you're likely to be met with either a blank stare, or some disgustingly ill-informed and incorrect answer.

It's sort of an open question as to WHY this has happened, whether there are people actively trying to promote a strain of proud anti-intellectualism or whether it's just a natural progression, but the end result is that not enough people understand or care about these rights to know and care when they're taken away.

Re:no privacy here, no privacy there (0, Troll)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431675)

I just don't understand it.

Both countries have rich and deep histories of democratic values.

What the hell? Wasn't the only time the UK was a democracy sometime in the 17th century? And it lasted only for a few years.

Re:no privacy here, no privacy there (1)

TheFlyingBuddha (1373717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431817)

Great, I just lost the game.

one word: olympics (1)

slew (2918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431909)

Where is this coming from?

Gotta start getting ready for 2012, just gotta do it, can't let those chinese show them up, right?

Perhaps the New Labour party is thinking if they become the laughing stock of security during 2012, they risk a quicker return to the wilderness years...

Re:no privacy here, no privacy there (1)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431513)

Most of the scariest stories, including this one, coming from the UK are proposed plans that the government would have to fight tooth and nail to actually implement. From what I've seen, most of the scary plans in the US actually happen.

Re:no privacy here, no privacy there (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431491)

It's not tit-for-tat at all: it goes like this. We watch the UK's governments do all the bad stuff they want. Then we cherry-pick the worst of it to implement here, once they've shown that they can get an otherwise-civilized population to accept it. This has the advantage of allowing our leaders to point to the UK and say, "See? Nobody even noticed {insert missing civil liberty here} over there, and better yet, no bombs have gone off so it must be a good thing!" The logic of this escapes me, but it appears to be working well.

Re:no privacy here, no privacy there (1)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431775)

Nah, Australia is way out in front. In fact, I think they're lapping the rest of us.

I wonder... (1)

kidde_valind (1060754) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431337)

In whose name they doing this? Is it to stop terrorists, or to make us think of the children?

Re:I wonder... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431377)

In whose name they doing this? Is it to stop terrorists, or to make us think of the children?

Both! [timesonline.co.uk]

In Soviet Russia... (3, Funny)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431357)

...Cellphone call resgisters YOU!

Oh, it seems in the UK as well...

Ebay has high end phones on it so you can use it. (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431367)

Ebay has high end phones on it so you can use it.

Re:Ebay has high end phones on it so you can use i (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431405)

And they will know your name and address, or at least your address.

So explain to me again... (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431371)

...How the headline is accurate?

Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification

Same here... (1)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431381)

Same here, which is why there are services where you can send prepaid SIM cards and get back a different one, registered to someone else. Some risks might be involved, though.

In related news... (2, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431385)

Cell phone theft and street robberies are about to rise very rapidly in the UK.

Because criminals don't steal phones (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431391)

Another excellent idea from the UK government.

From the same people who brought you the excellent "don't bring bottles of water on a plane" legislation. Go UK!

Seriously, please do something about this, join Liberty:
  http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/

Criminals steal phones. Criminals can buy phones abroad.

Re:Because criminals don't steal phones (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431501)

From the same people who brought you the excellent "don't bring bottles of water on a plane" legislation.

Was that a UK innovation, or did the TSA come up with that all on its own?

1984? More like 2014. (1)

bboxman (1342573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431409)

The British are each day taking a step closer towards the society envisioned in 1984. Orwell predicted this would happen forty years in the future -- he should've bet on 65-80 -- but still not so far off.

If this is coming true, when will we see an invasion from Mars?

Re:1984? More like 2014. (2, Funny)

stjobe (78285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431469)

The chances of anything coming from Mars is a million to one.

Caves. What about the deep caverns? (1)

bboxman (1342573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431503)

100 miles below the surface a thriving society of Martians, little green men, plot our eventual demise. They are advanced enough to escape detection by our puny remote controlled buggies.

Re:1984? More like 2014. (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431683)

I think I'm being watched [hostingprod.com] has really got me thinking. Is it auto-irony or making people used to idea of being watched?

Now on to my real response. (3, Insightful)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431433)

Someone once asked a while ago how much freedom will we be willing to surrender for a false sense of security.

It seems that in the US and UK this very scenario is playing itself out and all we can do is sit, horrified and watch in spite of ourselves.

It's like sitting in the passenger seat of a car that is being driven by a lunatic - you squint your eyes closed but keep peeking because you know what is bound to happen, but you cant help but look and hope you will be somehow wrong.

And safe.

One thing proponents of all this gathering of data on people keep forgetting is that data gets lost, stolen or otherwise compromised on a daily basis.

The UK is a shining example of data getting lost.

How long before a terrorist hacker steals the info and spoofs a phonecall to a bomb that is detonated via cellphone?

Suddenly the possibilities of being wrongly implemented in a terrorist plot is so much more possible.

This is a bad idea all around.

I am glad that I do not live in the US or the UK - if my country implements this kind of policy I would start browsing using the TOR network, set up my own mailserver to do direct relay and eventually fall back on using older means of communication - snail mail and pretty much nothing else.

Who is it that said "As soon as we change our way of living the terrorists have won"?

I tell you now - terrorists are holding the citizens of the US and the UK captive via proxy, and the proxy is ironically the very governments they are battling.

They win on all fronts at this moment.

Why don't anyone from UK protest this? (2, Insightful)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431549)

Why is NO ONE from UK protesting against this monstrous humongous assault on rights and freedom?
I mean this UK government is incapable of fulfilling everything that people yet is perfectly capable of converting everyone into a criminal and shooting innocent people in subways and the like.
Why doesn't the stupid holier-than-thou BBC question the government over this massive haul?
First it was ISP snooping and 3-strikes law, next it was throttling, next it was email provacy gone, next it was bedroom privacy gone, next it was laptop privacy gone and now it is this.
Everyday we hear massive new amounts of such assaults against human rights in UK, which puts China and even Korea to shame.
Pretty soon to walk down the street with your dog, the cops would require a passport; for the dog.
And instead of US where privacy and freedom is enshrined, UK depends on courts which seem more likely than ever to side with the stupid government which can't look after its own employees who visit prostitutes and lose their laptops.
Why doesn't the Lords do something?
The commons is made up of Common riff-raff which are more concerned with nailing down the next highest-priced whore who comes their way, while public servants regularly lose private information and then ask us to check our bank accounts.
Why isn't there a law which imposes mandatory criminal jail sentences for people who lose private information.
If an employee loses a laptop, he goes to serve bubba in prison for 12 months or more with free lube given by people.
Why isn't there a law which prevents people from entering a home or accessing someone's private property without authorization from Lords or the Queen herself. in that way if something goes wrong and an innocent person is shot dead because he jumped over a ticket barrier, she is forced to face jail.
Dumb ass citizens! Wake up!
70 years ago, a failed austrian artist did the same thing and propagated Reich. He was atleast intelligent and brilliant.
Your current crop of leaders can't spell their own properly let alone build a reich. The max they can build is what Viagra builds for them!

Re:Why don't anyone from UK protest this? (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431881)

Why is NO ONE from UK protesting against this monstrous humongous assault on rights and freedom?

To answer this and all your other questions - because this isn't a formal government plan yet, it hasn't been published and no-one knows about it. "Government officials" have apparently been talking to some phone companies about it.

Re:Now on to my real response. (1, Insightful)

Admiral Ag (829695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431645)

Most people aren't sitting horrified watching this. The majority of the population fall into one of two classes: (1) the people who don't like it, but who only vote for economic reasons; and (2) the people who don't care because they think the law only affects "bad" people. (I've deliberately left out the seriously deranged people who vote because the candidate is a "nice man", but they exist).

The idea that the majority of the populace will rise up and vote out a government that sacrifices their liberty for security is an illusion, and the political parties know it. This isn't some conspiratorial power grab, but the parties responding to the public desire for security.

If you want democracy to protect human rights, privacy and civil liberties, then I have a bridge to sell. Most voters don't care enough about those things.

When people say democracy is the least worst form of government, they forget that the least worst can still be appalling.

People in Britain don't vote against parties who threaten civil liberties. They vote against parties that threaten their mortgages. In some respects fascism is actually preferable. At least the trains would work properly.

Re:Now on to my real response. (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431887)

People in Britain don't vote against parties who threaten civil liberties. They vote against parties that threaten their mortgages

Ah, in that case I think the problem will be solved some time around the next election then.

In Hungary... (1)

little1973 (467075) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431453)

...this was the case from the beginning of cell phones. And it is not enough to show some ID, the service providers even photocopy it. I think this is standard practice in most european countries (maybe except the photocopy part).

Re:In Hungary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431481)

With regular photocopying of IDs we will be much safer :)

Re:In Hungary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431711)

In Slovenia (borders on Hungary), you can go to most shops and many street kiosks, and buy a tin can that contains a pre-paid SIM, 5 EUR (wtf - slashdot doesn't let me input the Euro sign?!) card and optionally a phone. No identification required.

New French export (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431527)

Looks like this will be yet another thing that people will have to make an afternoon trip to Calais for in future.

Already the case in Norway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431545)

Cannot buy a SIM card without personal identification, whether Pay as you Go (Top-up payments) or monthly subscription. Identification is then entered into the national database. SIM cards that do not have a connected identification will be blocked.

I strongly suspect this is already the case in many other European countries.

So like... how proficient are newsstand sellers... (2, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431553)

...in recognizing fake passports?

That being a low paying job, I am guessing it employs many immigrants.
From like... I don't know... Nigeria? [geocities.com]

And what are the current UK laws on creating and carrying around a obviously fake passport?
You know... kind that would have big red letters saying "FAKE PASSPORT! NOT REAL! NOT A FORM OF IDENTIFICATION! FOR JOKE PURPOSES ONLY!" on it?

Re:So like... how proficient are newsstand sellers (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431917)

And what are the current UK laws on creating and carrying around a obviously fake passport?
You know... kind that would have big red letters saying "FAKE PASSPORT! NOT REAL! NOT A FORM OF IDENTIFICATION! FOR JOKE PURPOSES ONLY!" on it?

Who cares? If you're looking to acquire an untraceable mobile phone for criminal purposes, the crime of carrying a fake passport isn't a big deal.

And getting hold of a pretty convincing fake shouldn't be that hard [bbc.co.uk] .

What about vending machines and freebies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431555)

In several UK airports and on ferries you can currently buy prepaid sim cards from vending machines so travellers can get easy access to UK networks. Several networks also give away free sims either via websites or when contract users upgrade they are sometimes given a free prepaid sim so they can give their old phone to a friend. I guess this scheme would end all this, I'd of thought the networks might have some objection to it.

Also to say all prepay users are anonymous is wrong, most networks persuade you to register your phone and give incentives to do so, most people will pay for their phones and/or topups with credit cards. So the majority of users are still going to leave their details even if they didn't intend to.

We told you so! (5, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431605)

It was over a decade ago when they were getting happy with CCTV cameras in London. We talked about how creepy that was and that they should be careful that they were not sliding down a slippery slope. We were dismissed, we were laughed at, and now look. We were right.

LK

Do more than complain about it on /. (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431685)

UKers should be in their politician's faces over this. Send an email. Mail a letter. Fax them. Phone them. Preferably all of the above. Political pressure is the only remedy against the constant erosion of your rights.

Australia does this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431689)

Australia has been doing this for a year plus now on prepaid and postpaid accounts

where's the problem? (1)

Bigos (857389) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431691)

As long as I am not required by law to carry a charged mobile at all times when I leave home I don't see a problem.

Jason Bourne (4, Funny)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431713)

This would have prevented Jason Bourne from buying a phone and planting it on Simon Ross to talk to him covertly without the CIA being able to trace the call.

My guess would be the UK government watched the movie and decided this loophole need to be closed.

Not a handbook! (3, Insightful)

hacker (14635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431759)

Someone needs to tell the PM in England that Orewell's book 1984 was never meant to be a handbook on how to run a country. It was intended to be a warning against such control.

Sigh.. it's a slippery slope until those in the US begin looking at these with genuine interest, with the intent to deploy these measures within our own borders.

It is yet more insanity... (1)

Fallen Andy (795676) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431789)

Looking back at my own country after 20+ years of living here in Athens, Greece I really don't recognize it any more.. Fortunately not everyone who ought to know is in favour of this hysterical over reaction - see here [guardian.co.uk] ...

Andy

Movie Plot Threats (4, Funny)

stereoroid (234317) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431791)

Another belated movie plot threat [wikipedia.org] response. Specifically, The Bourne Ultimatum, in which Bourne arrives at London's Waterloo station and immediately purchases a pre-paid cellphone to give to his journalist contact. If he had to show a passport to buy that phone... he could have been delayed by a couple of seconds, while he decided which of his fake passports to use. Gee.

Right (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431799)

Because the bad guys cannot steal cell phones.

Nothing new under the sun (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431835)

It strikes me that ham radio operators world-wide have lived with citizenship requirements from day one. I suspect that would be true of a great many other fixed and mobile services. Why should cell phones be any different?

In this thread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25431859)

A thousand Americans claiming this is worse than the US's torture flights.

Software radio (1)

bazim2 (625704) | more than 5 years ago | (#25431901)

I wonder how the legislation will impact of software radio mobile phone clients? After all the same device that 5 minutes ago was a mobile can, at the flick of a switch, be a radio-control car controller.
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