Monday, July 23, 2007

Mobile phone registration: Of limited benefit, will not solve problems and not practical

The Independent reports:
ALL mobile phones will have to be registered as part of a Government plan to improve surveillance on drug dealers.

Currently, any person can buy a pay-as-you-go mobile phone anonymously, which makes it harder for the gardai to track those involved in the drugs trade.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, new Drugs Minister Pat Carey said registry would help to tackle the "rampant use" of mobile phones in prisons, as well as small-time dealers working in the "shopping-centre carpark, the church car park or the local football field".

"If you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear. There may well be confidentiality or civil liberties issues but there are lives of people at stake as well, which I believe overrides any of those."
This policy is a nonsense. But don't take my word for it. Here's an email which Antoin received from the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in January of this year:
The idea for a Register of mobile phones was extensively reviewed by officials in the Department. There were many complex legal, technical, data protection and practical issues to be considered. In theory, a Register of mobile phones might seem like a good idea. However, having looked at the situation in other administrations, considered the ease with which an unregistered foreign or stolen SIM card can be used and the difficulties that would be posed in verifying identity in the absence of a national identification card system, and having consulted with the Office of the Attorney General and other interested parties, it was concluded that the proposal would be of limited benefit, in that it would not solve the illegal and inappropriate use of pre-paid mobile phones and was not practical.
Incidentally, I'd be intrigued to know how this will stop the "rampant use of mobile phones in prisons". Perhaps Pat Carey might think about preventing prisoners from having mobile phones in the first place?

1 comment:

  1. If ComReg can allow the use of iTrips in deference to the existing laws on Wireless broadcast, they should consider allowing jamming for prisons, cinema's and churches. The Prison Service Employees could have their mobile telephones placed on an allowed network and jamm all other mobile telephone signals from the area in question. Like a VPN arrangement. My question is though do the Prison Service pay for prison officer mobile telephones? (I'd suggest not below a certain rank). I'd tend to agree with you on the benefit. Funny this, as Dermot Ahern tried this when he was Minister for Comms. I think it was IMEI registration for WAP and 3G phones. It went nowhere. The letter to Antoin is of certain interest possibly similar to Aherns initiative, but I think it can be done for prisons. It might just be a question of cost. Nationally, the train has left the station. I heard a report of a mobile telephone that was being stored by a prisoner up his back passage, that exploded.