'Burner' phones might be banned in US

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Plazma Inferno!, Mar 28, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

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    'Burner' phones could be made illegal under US law that would require personal details of anyone buying a new handset.
    A bill proposes that everyone buying a phone in the country would have to register with personal ID, to stop criminal activities being planned with handsets that can be bought anonymously and then thrown away.
    Forcing shops to require customers to give over identification when buying cheap phones or pre-paid SIMs could be one of the most important ways that terrorists are able to communicate.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-s...onal-details-of-anyone-buying-a-a6955396.html
     
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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I've never heard the phrase "burner phone" before seeing this thread. Apparently it's criminal-slang for a prepaid phone that's discarded quickly when it starts to get too 'hot'.

    I use a pre-paid phone and it isn't totally anonymous. The individual who purchases one still has to sign up for the service, even if it is month-to-month and isn't formally a year-long contract or whatever. The phone won't work unless it is activated.

    But... I don't think that they verify the information that you give them and are satisfied if you keep it prepaid. That's done by buying prepaid cards and entering the numbers on them into the phone. So it would probably be very easy to activate a prepaid phone by giving them a fake name and address. (The name and address are mostly used to send out advertising, I think.)

    Not just terrorists, but small-time criminals too, like drug-dealers.
     
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  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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  7. Schneibster Registered Member

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    So basically we're going to take inexpensive cell phones out of the hands of the poors because we're afraid of terrorists.

    What a great idea not. Leave the poors alone.
     
  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    What does the requirement to provide ID have to do with cost/availibility?

    They didn't say they were discontinuing selling phones, simply removing the anonymity aspect.
     
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  9. Schneibster Registered Member

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    Mmmmm, good question, maybe I overreacted. But then again maybe not:
    Who pays for the registration system? Who pays for the sales clerk to fill out the paperwork? Who pays for the extra time off people with marginal jobs have to take to fill out the paperwork? Why wouldn't terrorists and drug dealers just use a fake ID? How much bang for our bucks, in terms of stopping terrorists, can we expect to get for all this extra work and extra money? To what extent to we intend to allow terrorists to dictate how we use cell phones?
     
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    It sort of sounds like your stance is that anonymous burner phones are a right, and we need to justify taking away that freedom.

    Think of it, instead, as a problem of exploitation by users (both innocent and nefarious) that has so far slipped through the cracks.
    It's being closed up so the system can't be abused and exploited.
     
  11. Schneibster Registered Member

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    ...and cell phones become more expensive. What I want to know is what we get for our money. Because I don't think I'll be any safer, and I do think people living on the margin will no longer be able to afford cell phones.
     
  12. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    Of course, this is woolly thinking, of the same kind that ushered in the Prohibition. Trying to ban technology as if a black market doesn't already exist is just dim.
    It's in the same ballpark as America trying to ban unlicensed guns.

    "You're going to have to take this phone out of my cold, dead hands, officer."
     
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  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Not inexpensive. Untraceable. Indeed, burner phones are often far more expensive by most metrics (cost per minute, lifetime ownership costs) than a regular cellphone plan.

    The issue is privacy. This law will not accomplish its goals, nor are the goals reasonable to begin with. That's the problem with it.
     
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  14. Schneibster Registered Member

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    True, but the initial cash outlay is less, and you don't have to get a credit check.

    I have more trouble indicting it on privacy grounds; most of the arguments I come up with sound like I'm saying if they take our cell phones Big Brother is next.
     
  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    If government tracking of conversations/communications to a specific person is NOT the goal, then there is no need for this law.
     
  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Well, phones are not quite the same thing as more traditional property. Phones are useless without the infrastructure of private cellular networks.

    We can't really claim private use of cellphones like we can with such things as guns.
     
  17. Schneibster Registered Member

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    And that's why we pay for them.

    I'll watch while you argue that with billvon. Like I said I'm not real comfortable with the privacy argument.
     
  18. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I don't follow. Do you think that, when you pay for a burner phone, it's covering its share of the cost of a country-spanning cell network?
    I can't be certain, but I doubt it.
     
  19. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Of course it is. That's why it comes with a limited amount of pre-paid minutes. If you want to use more of that country-spanning cell network (i.e. use more minutes) then you'll have to pay more. Not because the phone costs more, but because you are paying for the use of that network.
     
  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I think that what they are proposing is that purchasers of prepaid phones show suitable ID when buying them and that the identity information go into some database somewhere, so that the owner of a particular prepaid phone can be discovered if need be.

    I'm a user of a prepaid phone and I think that I support the proposed legislation (a lot depends on the small print and on how it's written).
     
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    It will probably be passed on to prepaid cell-phone users like me. I don't expect it to amount to much. California where I live just slapped a new tax on prepaid cell-phones, which I expect will turn out to be larger.

    I doubt if there will be any paperwork. Sales clerks will just make sure that the ID is a suitable government issued ID (drivers license or whatever) and then scan it. They already scan the prepaid cards we buy to add hours to the phone, and the number on the card is transmitted to the cell-phone company so that when we enter the number in our phones, the hours activate. (Otherwise, people would just steal handfuls of the cards from stores and resell them on the street.) Sending an ID card number wouldn't be any harder than what's currently being done, both technically and in terms of labor costs.
     
  22. Schneibster Registered Member

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    No, the minutes are.
     

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