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Cell Phone SIM Cards Lead To Terrorists' Trail

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the ease-of-communication dept.

Cellphones 118

Cliff Stoll writes "The Times of India reports that cell phone SIM cards used by the terrorists in Mumbai were purchased in Kolkata (Calcutta), using fraudulent papers. The papers belonged to the dead uncle of a 26-year-old man living in Kolkata; he is suspected of being a collaborator of the terrorists. The paper states that this highlights 'the continued vulnerabilities in the system which have repeatedly been exploited by the terrorists and their collaborators to obtain cell phone connections. "We've booked them for cheating and forgery as they produced fake documents to get the SIMs. We've also slapped conspiracy charges against them for they had an ulterior motive. The arrests will throw light on the Mumbai terror module," Kolkata police's Jawed Shamim said.'"

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Easy solution (5, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020627)

Just require DNA to purchase, and use, a phone. We don't need that pesky free-speech and privacy do we?

One of the costs of liberties is that some will abuse them. The answer is not to take them away from the rest. ( but its what the government wants to do, and garbage like this just helps them snow the populace into thinking its for 'their own good'.

Re:Easy solution (1, Insightful)

ErkDemon (1202789) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020993)

Ban the telephone!

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021017)

Too many ethical and operational issues using DNA.

The only solution is to have everyone receive a nanoscopic ID trnasmitter that can be applied in the form of a tattoo on a hand or forehead.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021059)

I understand you are being sarcastic. But I can't help wondering whether you would prefer being alive or protecting your identity when you buy a SIM card?

Re:Easy solution (5, Insightful)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021111)

This is what we call a false dichotomy [wikipedia.org] and is exactly the same fear tactic used by governments in several countries to justify invasive and abusive legislation and practices.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021285)

Let's forget the government for a moment. If there is a 0.01% chance that providing your personal information would save your loved one's life, would you provide it or say privacy is more important?

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021493)

0.01% was pulled out of whose ass? If the real number is actually 0, which it probably is, I definitely would say privacy is worth it.

Re:Easy solution (1)

TimWox (1425975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26022003)

If you are affected it is 100%. Till you are affected it is 0%. No matter if it is India, London or New York, there are people whose life could be saved, if you and I don't create this much fuss about wanting to keep our home address or SSN "top-secret" when you buy a phone connection or similar activity.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26022785)

Wait til your life goes to hell because your casual attitude towards privacy means you get your identity stolen.

Re:Easy solution (1)

TimWox (1425975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26022997)

The more secretive you are about your identity, more difficult will it be for you to restore it once its stolen. If your life is an open book, no one can steal it. Even if someone does, there will be so much tracks left, that it would be much easier to restore it. How many people have you heard of who have had their identity stolen? Now how many people have you heard of who have lost their lives due to terrorist activities?

Re:Easy solution (2, Insightful)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023075)

If SSN wasn't used as a catchall proof of identity in nearly all forms of financial transaction then it wouldn't be as big a deal. If the SSN was only used as a way to provide identity to the government (the original intent) then we wouldn't have people so afraid of this. But that's not the case, now if someone has your home address, SSN and maybe a family name they can take out all forms of credit in your name and ruin your ability to function in western society. I feel bad for those who die from terrorism but whatever restrictions we put on the purchase of phones, etc. there will be a way around it and the terrorists will still succeed in some way. The only true way to combat terrorism is to convince them that it is not worth the violence that they cause, a tremendously daunting and perhaps impossible task.

Re:Easy solution (4, Informative)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021531)

Benjamin Franklin [quotationspage.com] said it best, and I couldn't agree more.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021827)

If Benjamin Franklin could save his life, by giving out his home address or his mother's maiden name, do you think he would have said this? Personally I don't think my personal information is worth more than my life.

If you think your home address or your social security number is worth more than your life, more power to you.

Re:Easy solution (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26022069)

If Benjamin Franklin were in a position where he was afforded temporary safety at the expense of an essential liberty (the sovereignty over the contents of his own mind) then one would most probably surmise that he was being tortured or otherwise pressured for information. In which case, as soon as said information is disclosed his essential liberty and, indeed, essential life are forfeit.

do you wear full body armor when you drive? (0, Flamebait)

Uberbah (647458) | more than 5 years ago | (#26022837)

...that's flame retardant? That would do infinitely more to protect your personal safety than bending over for the government, but somehow I doubt that you do more than buckle your seat belt.

Re:Easy solution (2, Insightful)

TimWox (1425975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26022197)

Since this information was collected at some point, now they have a lead. This can result in taking several of the terrorists out of the streets. Without this lead, without able to arrest these terrorists, when they bomb next time, would you tell the victims it is just false dichotomy? It's easy to be arm chair philosopher. But don't fool yourself. When you are directly affected, your concern for your life would always triumph your want for privacy rights.

Re:Easy solution (0)

duggi (1114563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021317)

It is pretty easy to point out privacy concerns, but India is facing real terrorism. Fighting that requires tough measures, and you will find yourself signing up for such a scheme when one of your friends die in such an act.
You also have to trust the capability of the governing agencies in using such data, they couldnt prevent a strike from the seas with loads of intelligence.
Could the western world look at this with a little more empathy? Its not just numbers, they are actual humans.

Re:Easy solution (2, Interesting)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021429)

Since you need an individualized warrant from a Federal court to wiretap an American citizen inside the US, (yes, even with the new FISA, IIAL and I have actually read the statute), I don't see how registering the SIM to an identity has anything to do with privacy or free speech. Unless it's your position that (1) citizens do not have to submit to the lawful surveillance under the terms approved by Congress and monitored by a court of competent jurisdiction, (2) the courts are not effecting Congress' intent properly or (3) the terms, as written by Congress, are entirely unconscionable.

If I were writing the law, I would likely include more protection for privacy than is currently included. That political preference, however, does not mean that I think the law outside the bounds of reasonableness. There is room to disagree without hyperbole.

* Oh yeah, the telecom immunity part of the law was bullshit because the law was clearly being violated from 2002-2006. That said, here's an analysis of the law going forward: http://volokh.com/posts/1215699055.shtml [volokh.com] .

Re:Easy solution (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26025859)

"Since you need an individualized warrant from a Federal court to wiretap an American citizen inside the US..."

This only matters if there is somebody willing to stand up and actually prosecute the statue when it happens without a warrant. And particularly with the new law, I believe if you make a long distance call outside the US, the federal gov't begin a wiretap on your phone if an agent believes that call was to somebody with a relationship to a terrorist (not necessarily living there, or banging the occupant, but possibly just a casual acquaintance, and no actual evidence required), and now either 2 days or a week (I forget which) to actually apply for the warrant to listen in. And if the warrant is denied, the gov't can appeal (without lifting the wiretap), and I think has another 3 or 4 weeks for the appeal to be heard (all by a secret court, where only the gov't is represented). And the wiretap can get ALL your calls. Not just to that number, or to calls outside the country. And after that month or so, if the warrant is denied, all the gov't has to do is lift the wiretap. And all your recorded calls still are retained, and possibly could still be used in court against you or your friends.

The totally crazy part of the new law is that, even with the speed-dial-a-warrant FISA court, which has denied something like 2 warrants out of thousands over the last couple of years, was claimed to be to slow, so they needed the legal ability to tap your phone, then sometime in the next couple of days, actually find the judge and ask him if it's ok.

Re:Easy solution (2, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#26026889)

You are factually incorrect as to what the law requires (leaving aside for the moment the question of whether the law is being properly enforced).

As a US citizen, they cannot tap your phone without warrant. They can, however, tap the phone line of a suspect outside the US so that if you call that "tagged" line, they can listen in. That doesn't make you tapped because your next call to Joe's Pizza cannot be intercepted. Basically, they can monitor the phone line of the foreign person and gather your phone to him but they can't monitor your line.

Please read the link in my OP.

Re:Easy solution (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021469)

I club you over the head, get your biometric data, use phone. Leave you unconscious at the scene. Being the low hanging fruit you get hanged for your crimes.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021719)

Surely having records of being in the hospital unconscious while the act of terrorism takes place will never be considered an airtight alibi. Also, why wouldn't you fill out a police report while there, detailing your loss?

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26022109)

Sarcasm is for small-minded people. You're a lawyer, and thus are supposed to be smarter than that. Please stop.

Re:Easy solution (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26022119)

Well, if DNA proof positive of non-paternity [ancpr.org] isn't enough to get you out of paying child support, I wouldn't be at all confident that mere medical records could exonerate you from terrerisum. If you claim otherwise then you're obviously supporting terrerisum, you dirty terrerest.

Re:Easy solution (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023069)

I drag you with me to the crime in the trunk. You'll just 'be that crazy dirty dood that did the dirty deed' and then 'fall down and bump head'. It will be told with a straight face by UGH the Police Cretin and lapped up by the ERG the Media Cretin.

You do realize who died recently whose husband was railroaded by the cops yes?

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26024303)

garbage like this

Okay, what do you suggest? Maybe the Indian police shouldn't be trying to track down the people who sent fifteen crazed killers into hotels where they murdered hundreds of people? Damn those pesky police and their "garbage" idea of bringing criminals to justice!

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26024323)

Try getting a cellphone connection in any country without a government issued id, a social security number or a credit card. You need at least one of these to get a phone in almost any developed country. The problem is, most people in India do not have the latter two and they just pay cash. So, the law requires copy of a government issued id to buy cell phone connections.

You know.....why do they need to know? (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020645)

Don't get me wrong. I like it when they can catch the "bad guys". And I know this story involves countries OTHER than the US.

But, I've been looking around here for a new cell phone, and yes..I'm eyeballing the iPhone. But, one thing I recently found out is, AT&T is requiring you give them your damned SSN to get one activated?!?! What the hell is this?

I know they're wanting to do a credit check...but, in lieu of that why can't I just give them a deposit? I've been with Sprint since I got a cell phone back in about 2000 or so. I did the deposit thing with them, and no problem. A year or so they sent it back.

But, from what I can tell...they don't want to do that for the iPHone. I've been searching and some site seem to say (and this sounds like old info about activating at home) to put in 999-99-9999 or 141-11-1111 (supposedly an internal ATT code) for the ssn when registering..and it will set you up for some "Pay as you go" type plan.

I'm still looking into all this....but, really, if you put down a deposit, and pay the bill, why they hell do they even need to know much more than minimal information about a person? Just to track you in case you do something bad?

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020751)

I recently found out is, AT&T is requiring you give them your damned SSN to get one activated

I shall now go checking on this, but for now I'm going to say "no".

Several years back my grandmother was with us shopping and the dept store offered her a credit card for the store. She wanted one and filled out the paperwork. It got to the spot where you had to fill in your SSN.

"I don't want to give you that. You can't demand that."

She grew up in the era where your SSN was ubber-top-secret and you were actually publicly educated to never give it out. She knew the rules.

They argued for a good 10 min and finally got on the phone calling around. The store clerks realized she was probably right, but everything they had been told was to the contrary.

Finally after 25 minutes of phonecalls and I don't know how far up the chain they had to go, they ran into someone that knew the law. "she's right, we cannot demand her SSN as a condition for getting the card." (you cannot simply say "well it's your right not to give out your SSN but if you don't, we won't give you this card") She was issued an alternate unique identification number. From what I saw, this was an extremely unusual case for someone to call them on this, so very few people know their rights here.

I remember my SSN used to be on my driver's license. Now that's a different unique number also. Heck, two months ago I was at the dentist and they wanted my SSN. I said I don't want to give it to you. She said well look on your dental card I bet that's your number. by god she was right. That got changed a week later following a phonecall from me to my insurance company.

It's amazing how many places you will see people wanting your SSN, and if you're sucker enough to give it to them, they're doing really stupid things with it.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26020925)

in todays world your SSN is what your financial history is tied to, and it's not 1940 anymore alice...

not saying it's a good thing but it is what it is.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26022449)

My dick is 9 inches long and causes you to gag.

It is what it is. Why are you complaining?

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (1)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021167)

I'd like to know who that store was. Anyway, I can guarantee that you couldn't do that today.

Anyway you cannot and you can argue until you're blue in the face, get any sort of:

  1. Utility service
  2. Cell service
  3. credit card
  4. loan
  5. Government job
  6. Any other job
  7. just file an application for a job.

without giving your SSN. (Home Depot requires one to even apply for a job - online. WTF?!) They will just refuse to do business with you which is their right. I am really paranoid about giving my SSN and I have refused to do business with many companies because of this.

And this bullshit of doing credit checks for prospective employees - even if you're not going to touch money!! If you have a lot of student loans, you may actually fail an employer's credit check. That's right, student loans can actually harm your employment chances!

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (1)

moortak (1273582) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021733)

Bullshit on numbers 1-3. I have gotten all three without use of my ssn.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (1)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021261)

"They" already have your SSN... This whole illusion that your privacy is protected because you withold your SSN is naive. All of these institutions already have access to your SSN and all of your financial information, only reason they want it is because it holds just a little more weight than your signature for the purpose of fraud verification. As far as your privacy, its been screwed into the ground from the day you were born, you have been cataloged, assessed, verified and filed by the spooks and the corporations that sleep with them. Welcome to the Machine, you were already there.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (5, Interesting)

MrEkitten (902303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021855)

Since I work for AT&T, I'll let you in on a secret. If you are willing to pay a $500 deposit, you do not need a SSN. There are many people who are foreign exchange students, VISA workers, and others who are able to use AT&T service with no SSN. I will admit that we try really hard to use one for credit checks and the such, but it is NOT required for those who persist. If you do not give one, a $500 deposit per line IS required. This would have to be paid upfront, before the activation of the line.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (2, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023153)

There are many people who are foreign exchange students, VISA workers, and others who are able to use AT&T service with no SSN.

At least one of the SIM-cards used by Mumbai terrorists was purchased in the US (New Jersey [mypetjawa.mu.nu] )...

No, I'm not saying, it should be necessary to submit everything to a cell-phone provider — that's how things are in less free countries like India or Australia. But it is still interesting...

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26026935)

"Since I work for AT&T, I'll let you in on a secret. If you are willing to pay a $500 deposit, you do not need a SSN. There are many people who are foreign exchange students, VISA workers, and others who are able to use AT&T service with no SSN. I will admit that we try really hard to use one for credit checks and the such, but it is NOT required for those who persist. If you do not give one, a $500 deposit per line IS required. This would have to be paid upfront, before the activation of the line."

Thank you for the info. I have no problem whatsoever plunking down a $500 deposit. My question is...when I go in there, what do I say, or who do I insist on talking to in order to do the deposit thing, and not have to go round and round with a sales droid that probably doesn't know this can be done?

Thank you for the input....a little more info on how to do this smoothly please.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26022699)

they ran into someone that knew the law. "she's right, we cannot demand her SSN as a condition for getting the card."

I'm really interested to know more. What does the law say? Can we replace "card" with "bank account", "job", "cable internet"? Where is the line? So far I've given my SSN to probably too many entities, and from now on I'd like to know my rights.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (2, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023091)

Finally after 25 minutes of phonecalls and I don't know how far up the chain they had to go, they ran into someone that knew the law. "she's right, we cannot demand her SSN as a condition for getting the card." (you cannot simply say "well it's your right not to give out your SSN but if you don't, we won't give you this card") She was issued an alternate unique identification number.

This is very interesting... I once responded with a "Yes" to a bank's (Capital One) offer of a credit card for my business (not even me). Well, they wanted my SSN anyway. I refused and they rejected my "pre-approved" application. I filed a complaint (on the bank-provided form), and, eventually, the government told me, the bank is within their right to deny the application. It wouldn't even have bothered me that much, if it was for the fact, that I was, supposedly, "pre-approved"...

Your story, if true, would place it in a different light. But it may also be, that the store has run a credit-check on your grandma during all those phone-calls, was able to identify her by other parameters (name, address), and was satisfied with her credit-record...

Because I'd be a bit unnerved, if, for example, I was legally-obligated to provide rental housing, for example, without a credit check. It is a lot harder for a landlord to terminate an agreement with tenant, than it is for a bank to cancel a credit-card...

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (2, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26024619)

I made a followup post [slashdot.org] after doing some additional digging and making some calls. The SSA webpage itself has some contradictions here, in one place implying that unless there's a law for it, they can't require it. Then in another place they say there may be "consequences" if you deny it. So I have contacted them for clarification.

Though it does seem for all the instances where someone beat around the bush awhile they always found an exception, and I can't imagine companies going to the trouble on such a consistent basis unless they had to?

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26026909)

"It's amazing how many places you will see people wanting your SSN, and if you're sucker enough to give it to them, they're doing really stupid things with it."

I'm much the same way and do not give it out unless it is used for SSN taxation. I did, recently relent..when I recently moved. I had to give it to get water turned on. They explained to me, that their system was so old, it used SSN (basically for a primary key, which is not a good idea)...and they could actually not put me in the system without it. I was shocked, but, after looking into it...I believe them. I too have had insurance and other places NOT put my SSN in there...so, yes, it is a big deal to me too.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (1)

Jens Egon (947467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020911)

Don't get me wrong. I like it when they can catch the "bad guys". And I know this story involves countries OTHER than the US.

But, I've been looking around here for a new cell phone, and yes..I'm eyeballing the iPhone. But, one thing I recently found out is, AT&T is requiring you give them your damned SSN to get one activated?!?! What the hell is this?

When I first heard this story I thought that those guys might simply be reselling phones.

If buying a phone in a store becomes too difficult or fraught with unknown (legal) dangers, a black market will appear.

Even if this is not generally the case in India today. (Is it? I certainly wouldn't know.) Sooner or later restrictive legislation will drive a black market.

The SSN is not a signature (2, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020937)

one thing I recently found out is, AT&T is requiring you give them your damned SSN to get one activated?!?! What the hell is this?

The SSN is a practical primary key for identifying people, that's all. The big problem in using the SSN is that some federal agencies assume that anyone who calls them with an SSN number and the corresponding name is in fact that person.

If the SSN weren't used in this way, I would have no objection in giving it to anyone who asked. After all, my car license is in plain view for anyone to see. No one ever assumes that a person mentioning a car license plate is the owner of that car.

Agreed (2, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021103)

I agree. I don't see anything wrong with everyone being given a unique number.

It's very wrong to assume that if someone can spit out that number and name, they're that person.

The trouble is what is the alternative? A password? Someone will start recording/stealing the passwords and you have a similar problem.

Re:The SSN is not a signature (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26027069)

"The SSN is a practical primary key for identifying people, that's all. "

Actually....SSN is not a very good choice to use for a primary key for identifying people. It is not 100% unique to people. There are people, for religious reasons, that do not have one. People can apply for and change SSN's...there are 'special' ssn's assigned to foreign workers, and even ones that are more than 9 digits to foreign military personnel assigned to our military bases for periods..etc. Hell, to this day, there are still people out there, that when they bough wallets back in the 50's and 60's...that had 'fake' credit cards and social security cards in them, thought that was how they go their number assigned...and still use them.

Not to mention how that many illegal aliens are using fraudulent SSN's of fake, dead and real living people. No, it is not a good primary key for people.

When I worked at Acxiom [acxiom.com] many moons ago...we learned not to use that there...and they are the commercial big brother of the US, and other parts of the world. When I was there...we were trying to come up with our own unique identifier for everyone in the US, and then even foreign countries that we could use to track people from birth to death no matter what name or address changed...etc. I can only guess they have something like that now. Back then we had pretty good info on about 98% of the people in the US, and were starting to expand outside the US borders on info gathered and tracked. Hell, after 9/11 the feds used Acxiom for help on data for private citizens.

Anyway...I don't like to give out my SSN at all unless for taxation purposes. I've had my identity stolen twice...and while I was lucky that it didn't hurt me any...it makes me cautious. And...the more places that have info like this one you, makes more places that can leak or lose or have info on you stolen...which can harm you.

I'm not paranoid, but, I also do find it best to do like Monty Python said...and know the importance of not being seen.

:)

At least you have an SSN (1)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021089)

Those in the US on student visas - like my GF - can't get SSNs, so they can't get phones. Of course, they can get the pre-paid ones that terists prefer...

Re:At least you have an SSN (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021551)

That is just absolute nonsense - when you friend gets a job (any part-time job on a college campus, say) she need to fill out an application for an SSN. She would use that number for everything she wants (like a cc, phone, paying taxes etc) - however, she can't ever claim any money from social security (for unemployment benefits or anything like that).

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021299)

You can't run a credit check without a SSN though and without a credit check you're going to get whatever the lowest credit limit is and worst interest rate they have.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021495)

I can't seem to comprehend what's so special about your identification, that you think that giving it out would harm you?

You are not special. Knowing that you got a brand new telephone connection doesn't make the government or anyone else go - "aah! a new target to monitor". But if there is a way to find reliably who owns a connection, there is a way to track when something does indeed go wrong.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (4, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021635)

The initial basic list of people that can require your SSN, when the SSN was created was simply:

A- the IRS (which can also mean the person that submits your taxes)
B- your employer
C- your bank

There is a more comprehensive and current list at the US Govt SSN web page [ssa.gov] :

-Internal Revenue Service for tax returns and federal loans;
-Employers for wage and tax reporting purposes;
-States for the school lunch program;
-Banks for monetary transactions;
-Veterans Administration as a hospital admission number;
-Department of Labor for workersâ(TM) compensation;
-Department of Education for Student Loans;
-States to administer any tax, general public assistance, motor vehicle or drivers license law -within its jurisdiction;
-States for child support enforcement;
-States for commercial driversâ(TM) licenses;
-States for Food Stamps;
-States for Medicaid;
-States for Unemployment Compensation;
-States for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families; or
-U.S. Treasury for U.S. Savings Bonds

I don't see "AT&T", "Apple", or even "Cell phone providers" on that list anywhere.

Further, they state:

If a business or other enterprise asks you for your number, you can refuse to give it. However, that may mean doing without the purchase or service for which your number was requested. For example, utility companies and other services ask for a Social Security number, but do not need it; they can do a credit check or identify the person in their records by alternative means.

Giving your number is voluntary, even when you are asked for the number directly. If requested, you should ask why your number is needed, how your number will be used, what law requires you to give your number, and what the consequences are if you refuse. The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give your Social Security number. The decision is yours.

Since they discuss "consequences", I wonder if that means they can refuse to sell you services or products if you refuse to give them your SSN. Kind of looks that way? But since it specifically says you should ask what LAW requires you to give your ssn, it would appear that they must give you an alternate option. But it also says that may mean doing without the purchase or service for which your number was requested so this web page appears to present conflicting information.

Aaaand 35 minutes on the phone later...

AT&T wireless customer support number is 1-800-331-0500, 1, 2
- prepaid has no credit check and thus does not require ssn
- iphones cannot do prepaid, can only do monthly plans
- monthly plan requires credit check to determine the amount of the necessary deposit
- ssn required for credit check **
- rep was not aware of options for paying the largest deposit in leu of the credit check

called AT&T wireless customer care at 1-866-801-3600
- rep agreed with everything I've said so far but is unsure if AT&T offers an alternate method of credit check or flat rate downpayment to skip the credit check.
- rep contacted the AT&T Activation dept (they have NO external phone number for this department!)
- the activation dept said I need to go to an AT&T wireless store and they can perform the activation without a credit check, but will require a deposit, most likely the upper limit deposit of $1,000, and will issue you a "generic id" in leu of your SSN

You can also call Activation at Apple, at 1-800-694-7466, but they may not know how to deal with this, and may not be able to handle this flat rate deposit and issuing of a generic id at an Apple store. (it's possible the law may require them to here also, but they will probably just direct you to the nearest AT&T wireless store)

** I wonder if your ssn is truly required for a credit check? According to the SSA web site, they can do a credit check or identify the person in their records by alternative means. , but this information may be outdated. I doubt anyone does an internal-only credit check anymore - they want to know if your credit is good "in general", not just with them.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26022999)

dude you need to get a life

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021649)

I know they're wanting to do a credit check...but, in lieu of that why can't I just give them a deposit? I've been with Sprint since I got a cell phone back in about 2000 or so. I did the deposit thing with them, and no problem. A year or so they sent it back.

Lie. If you've got a corporation - use it's EIN, since it won't collide with anyone's SSN.

You will fail the credit check, and they will demand a deposit.

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023039)

Just to track you in case you do something bad? Yes. Like not pay your bill.

Your SSN is no secret. Anyone that attended a university in the early 2000s knows that many of them had to scramble to replace your student id number (SSN) with an actual student id number. Prior to that, your SSN was all over campus. It's also probably in the database of most utilities, banks and credit cards that you have used. How is this surprising that AT&T requests it?

You gave Sprint a deposit for 7 years? I hope you got some interest on that...

Re:You know.....why do they need to know? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26026977)

"You gave Sprint a deposit for 7 years? I hope you got some interest on that..."

Sprint, like other utilities I've given deposits to, have usually paid it back to me in 1-2 years after I've been a good, paying customer.

I have a bunch of indians in my school. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26020657)

They only know how to program using matlab or visual studio. they fucking stink like shit.

Re:I have a bunch of indians in my school. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021083)

I am married to an Indian woman. Now, don't get me wrong, she is beautiful and I love her, but her snapper is... well, disgusting. I tried to go down on her once and just could NOT. I felt nauseous. Luckily, she has a sense of humor about it, and wasn't offended or anything... but it is unfortunate that I cannot "please" her in that way.

Hell, after having sex with her, my "floppy hoagie" smells so terrible that I have to wash it with soap and water immediately. It's the absolute only negative thing about her, which is why I deal with it.

IDs and Sim Cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26020663)

I'm not sure it's a worthwhile tradeoff between freedom and security to require ID checks for cell phones.

Re:IDs and Sim Cards (4, Interesting)

argiedot (1035754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023541)

It's India, man. Really, ID checks are incredibly lax here, even now. I know people who've gotten a SIM card replaced on expired ID, and it could have been fake and no one would have noticed a thing.

Ironic (1)

kraemate (1065878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020841)

You know what the irony is?
I live in india and have had my SIM card blocked _every_ time i have got one, the phone company citing 'lack of documentary proof of identity' every time inspite of me submitting whatever proof i had.

The government has mandated all these proofs but this case proves it doesnt make a difference in the end.
I really dont know which is better : getting a working phone connection with no documents or this 'secure' method. I mean how hard is it for someone to fake a photocopy of a grubby drivers license?

Re:Ironic (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021477)

There's more hilarity to this story, apparently the terrorists were supplied with the SIM cards by Indian police:

One of the two Indian men arrested for illegally buying mobile phone cards used by the gunmen in the Mumbai attacks was a counterinsurgency police officer who may have been on an undercover mission.
...
The implications of Ahmed's involvement that Indian agents may have been in touch with the militants and perhaps supplied the SIM cards used in the attacks added to the growing list of questions over India's ill-trained security forces, which are widely blamed for not thwarting the attacks.

Indian police arrest 2 men in Mumbai investigation [yahoo.com]

Re:Ironic (1)

argiedot (1035754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023555)

I agree that it doesn't seem to serve any purpose, but it's incredibly easy to get a connection. Vodafone will give you one in 2 hours, Airtel in a day.

yoU FAIL it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26020851)

the tiMe 7o meet [goat.cx]

papers to buy a sim card? (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26020979)

so is it OK to require paper to buy a SIM card now? I thought it was evil. Or maybe just in the countries where terrorists come from, because everyone there must be a terrorist? or just in places where it wouldn't affect me?

Frightful scenario . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021095)

. . . I see this guy in an evil Nazi uniform, speaking with a John Cleese Nazi accent:

"Papers pleaze!"

(Frighteningly long pause)

"Zeeze papers are in order!"

"You may now place your call!"

Re:papers to buy a sim card? (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021149)

It isn't that everyone is a terrorist. It's simply to stop the terrorists from having easy access. You, honorable citizen that your are, have nothing to worry about because you don't have anything to hide, right? Or at least that's the mantra. Let's ignore the potential for abuse...

Re:papers to buy a sim card? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26022771)

Here in Argentina, you can buy SIM cards off the streets, in the train, etc. Only paper required is paper money. You can buy a SIM card for about 4 pesos (3.47 pesos == 1 dollar).

Re:papers to buy a sim card? (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26025459)

I know, that's how I got my current phone line (cost me $5, those bastards ripped me off :). But isn't there a law that "encourages" people to register their DNI when they get the line?

What's so great? (5, Interesting)

yams (637038) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021025)

I don't understand how this is relevant to slashdot. What is so technically challenging about a fake SIM card? I am from India, and we see fake IDs here on a regular basis.

These people are terrorrists - if they can procure an AK-47, why should anything prevent them from procuring an illegal ID and illegal SIM card.

Maybe India can make tougher laws, but that would only hamper those who need to to obtain a SIM card for legal purposes - more paperwork. I doubt that terrorists would be bothered by paperwork.

I can understand Times of India (or any other Indian newspaper) publishing this article, but why Slashdot? If we're going to blindly publish articles from TOI, why not publish this one [indiatimes.com] ?

Re:What's so great? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021243)

You must be new here ;)

This article will bring discussion about big brother, privacy and dirty government policies.

Re:What's so great? (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26026469)

You mean the one about Britney?

Re:What's so great? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021793)

It's relevant because a lot of us don't want to be required to provide ID to buy a SIM in our own countries. This example means that we can point at India and say:
  • In India, this scheme is already in effect.
  • It has been shown not to work.
  • Implementing it here would be costly and provide no benefit.
  • Why do you, politician coming up for re-election, want to spend taxpayers' money, in a recession, on something that won't work?

Re:What's so great? (1)

TimWox (1425975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023189)

It has been shown not to work.

Why do you think it does not work? It's the clue that led to the dead man and to his nephew. It may now lead to the actual planners. True, it did not prevent the attacks. But it can lead to the capture of some people, which can prevent future attacks. So ultimately it does work.

Re:What's so great? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023269)

Why do you think it does not work? It's the clue that led to the dead man and to his nephew. It may now lead to the actual planners.

Your assumption is that it is the only clue that will lead anywhere.

Furthermore, the ToI article is very focused on pointing out that, "the Pakistan-based terrorists exploited the weaknesses in the issuance of SIM cards" which seems (to me at least) like editorializing for ratcheting up the restrictions even further. Which is a topic that needs disputing and slasdot is good place to find people who can dispute it on technical grounds if not libertarian grounds.

Re:What's so great? (1)

jxxx (88447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26026855)

I love how they drop "alleged" after the second sentence. This journalism is so yellow, I'm having trouble reading the page.

And what a model of efficiency and effectiveness. The police discovered the man of the house was (several years) dead after paying him a visit. Laugh.

The only feeling I'm left with is that I can't trust the reporter, or (if the reporter is otherwise deemed credible) the police forces cited.

So how did people do terrorism before cellphones? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021093)

Surely a mobile phone is not a vital part of a terrorist operation - otherwise there would have been no atrocities before 1985.

Once the baddies get wise to the fact that they can still disrupt our lives without the need to talk to each other, then how will we track them?

Of course, if the government thought that mobiles were vital to carrying out terror, they'd just start jamming them within the operational zone. It seems to me that both sides benefit from being able to talk to each other - or do we just live in such a soft world, that the possibility of being out of touch with our compadres, even for a short time, is inconceivable?

Usually, a dead terrorist is a good thing, but (4, Funny)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021113)

The papers belonged to the dead uncle of a 26-year-old man living in Kolkata; he is suspected of being a collaborator of the terrorists

I gotta hand it to him; if that dead uncle can be a collaborator when he is dead, he must really be committed to his nutty cause.

Re:Usually, a dead terrorist is a good thing, but (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26024037)

"I gotta hand it to him; if that dead uncle can be a collaborator when he is dead, he must really be committed to his nutty cause."

He found out the "forty virgins" were male Slashdotters, and opted for a different eternal martyrdom instead.

Lucky the guy was already dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021271)

Actually I thought that using the papers of the 'dead uncle' was lucky for the already-dead uncle. Terrorists being of the mindset that they are, they could have simply killed him, taken the phone/sim card, and hidden the body.

If they did this shortly before their nefarious attack, and hid the body decently well, no one would be the wiser until after the attack (if at all).

OR, scenario #2: Pick some cell phone user at random, kill him, take the phone, hide the body, commit the attack...

OR, scenario #3: Pick a bunch of cell phone users at random, kill them, take their phones, hide or don't hide their bodies, commit the attack...

So, requiring documentation of all sorts and kinds and with all manner of details gains us what kind of saftety/security? Oh that's right - NONE. But we feel so good about it...

Re:Lucky the guy was already dead (1)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26022023)

I've been thinking... So you kill someone and take his cell phone.
How do you find out the telephone number of the cell phone you have taken?
You could call a known number that has caller-id, but that sets up a traceable record.
So you call another stolen cell phone, but again, how do you find out the number of that stolen cell phone?

Re:Lucky the guy was already dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26022505)

"I've been thinking... So you kill someone and take his cell phone. How do you find out the telephone number of the cell phone you have taken?" Ask them before you kill them? Look for the number listed in the phone's contacts? Getting a phone's number is quite easy.

Re:Lucky the guy was already dead (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023211)

Plenty of phones have the ability to display its own phone number.

breaking news (2, Interesting)

ConfusedVorlon (657247) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021405)

not only can everyone in the country get a mobile phone. Terrorists can too!

Quick - more laws needed. Terrorists should not be able to get phones.

Re:breaking news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26024293)

Tracking and tapping there phone is probably the only chance we have of finding them. Maybe we should give them free phones? or at least a discount, maybe as a special tax break for terrorists?

terrorists exploiting a weakness? (1)

phr1 (211689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021445)

In this case I think it's the cops who are exploiting a weakness (that most cell phone users are identifiable unless they take special precautions), not that anything is wrong with cops using what they can under the circumstances. But, as a general matter, private communications are a GOOD thing. If we have a situation where a criminal wore gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints, we normally wouldn't say they exploited a weakness of the fingerprint system that needs to be plugged by outlawing gloves.

What would it change ? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021461)

What would they have done differently, had they "known" sooner ? Does buying a phone help corrupt cops stop terrorism ? They're not going to do a damned thing. You could have the phone dealer drag the suspects to the cop shop, throw them in a cell and the lazy maggots won't bother locking it, because they support the cause.

Getting a Sim card (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26021549)

Is it just me or is this article total BS? I mean:
1. Are the terrorists stupid or the Indian police? Who the hell asks an old guy if they can use his dead relatives ID to buy a phone card?
2. The terrorists are very stupid or you can't buy a prepaid card in India (haven't been there). In the "developing" eastern Europe we had those for 15 years or so... something is f'kin wrong there.
3. Why the hell is the police pointing out the weak spot they found in the "system"? Is it because they know squat and want the bad guys "on the run" or they are trying to hide the real vulnerability or again.. dumb.
Sorry if I insulted anyone but this isn't even funny.

SIM Cards (1)

ashwinds (743227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021577)

...don't kill people. Unless of course they trigger a bomb :P
It only let them gloat to their overlords on cell phones - come on - they easily could have grabbed that at gun point from any hostage. The situation would not have changed significantly at all if they did not have those SIM cards
*Any* regulation in India is just another source of corruption. India is plagued by a tolerant (or maybe its a care-a-damn) society and a political system which preys on that.
This news is just the same political machinery striving to create an illusion that they are on top of the investigation while their reputation is in tatters.

Criminals *purchased* SIM cards? (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021633)

What sort of lame criminals go to the store and *purchase* SIM cards?

Re:Criminals *purchased* SIM cards? (1)

mean pun (717227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021691)

What sort of lame criminals go to the store and *purchase* SIM cards?

The ones that don't want to attract attention before it's too late?

identity papers to buy SIM cards ? (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26021671)

Is it true that in India, you need to produce identity papers to buy SIM cards and how did they get caught if they used forged documents ?

True indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26022339)

Very true indeed. I used to live there 20 years ago, and visited some family a couple of years ago. I can't tell you what a nightmare it was to procure a SIM card for the week or so I was there. They need proof of identity, proof of address in India (kinda hard for me since I was staying with a friend), etc etc. And yeah, did I mention that there is so much confusion around the rules that the stores have no consistency. Typical of the Indian govt. though.

bi73h (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26023357)

Show ID to get SIM? (1)

billsf (34378) | more than 5 years ago | (#26023845)

In most places of the world (I've been to) including the USA, I've never been required to show ID to get a local pre-pay SIM. It is simply cheaper to forward all calls to your temporary SIM (through a suitable VoIP provider) and have people call you at that (land-line) number. Sure its a 'hole' in the system, but the "George Bush system" is at its end.

If people can get over the witch-hunt (especially in the USA) we will be in a safer world. Your odds of dying in a terrorist attack are about those of winning the lottery, Bush crap factored in. The world might soon become much safer. Please don't support this "War on Terror" crap anymore!

Re:Show ID to get SIM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26024095)

"most places" does not include most of europe. Allmost all countrys there (including the very free and neutral switzerland) require an official ID to get a SIM Card - there's no "don't support [...] this crap", eighter show your ID or you just dont get a SIM...

Re:Show ID to get SIM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26026519)

Not the UK - in fact, I just ordered a UK SIM from ebay for $5 for an upcoming trip. I would presume that I could pay a hefty roaming fee & use it anywhere in Europe if I wanted.

Re:Show ID to get SIM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26024471)

Did they ask you for a credit card, or did you pay cash?

Slippery slope... (1)

bayankaran (446245) | more than 5 years ago | (#26024059)

Here is an interesting take from a Bombayite. [indianexpress.com]

India is on a slippery slope to authoritarianism...there is a call for a strong state from many influential sections. They want a 'world-standard anti-terrorism plan'. [hindustantimes.com] But everyone forgets a world standard anti terrorism plan is putting band aid on a wound and not asking how the wound happened.

Many of us does not remember the last time we had an emergency - decalared by Indira Gandhi [wikipedia.org] and what it meant for civil liberties or even the idea of a democracy.

Making it hard to get a Cell Phone is another band aid. Its not going to work.

Me curious on rural India reacting to the massacre in Bombay...will national security overwhelm other genuine and pressing concerns?

Ravindranath Tagore remarked - "whatever you think of India is true, and its opposite". So lets wait and watch.

Ni6ga (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26024333)

~280MB MPEG oof of BitTorrent) Second, mistake of electing visions going truth, for all from th$e FreeBSD project faces a set first avoid going out how to make the sudden and you should bring Problems with another folder. 20 to die. I will jam Platform for the but with Netcraft knows that ever very own shitter,

Thanks nice. Real nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26024485)

Tell everyone. Tell these fucking whacko terrorist pigs exactly how they were tracked so they learn and dont do that next time. And, on top of that stupidity, expect the fucking whacko liberals to whine and complain about our freedoms being violated. As if terrorist jackasses have any freedoms.

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