The Home Office has floated the idea of forcing anyone who wishes to purchase a mobile phone to provide a passport or equivalent before they can do so, and these details will be logged on a database for the purposes of tracking terrorists and organised criminals.
I suspect that it’s not beyond the capabilities of the average criminal mastermind to obtain false papers, or easier still to pay someone else to buy the phone for them. It will certainly make a change from kids asking adults to buy them booze, I now expect to see besuited mafia types lurking outside Phones4U saying “oi mister, get us a Nokia N95 will ya”. Furthermore, if the purpose really is national security, then surely Sir James Crosby’s recommendations would suggest that the government should want to make it easy to buy phones so that their location and traffic can be monitored (the Communications Data Bill should assist with that one).
Anyway, there are a couple of good business opportunities here. Firstly, to open an import business that sells overseas SIMs into the UK by mail order. Secondly, if the Home Office really means ‘phones’ and not ‘SIMs’ then I’m going to start hoarding handsets because prices of second-hand units will skyrocket as people either refuse to identify themselves for a new one, choose not to identify themselves because of nefarious intent, or (much more importantly) cannot identify themselves because of a lack of suitably robust credentials (socially marginalised groups).
It certainly seems inevitable that if this proposal goes through then it will only be a short period before ID Cards are accepted in place of passports, and the next logical step will be ID Cards being the only valid way to obtain a phone. Welcome to the panopticon…