Government proposals to require mobile customers to present their passports when buying a phone are quite hilarious. The mooted scheme sounds about as well well thought out as the idea of hauling off drunks to cashpoint machines to pay on the spot public order fines.
The ‘proposals’ aim to combat terror, and were floated in the Sunday Times at the weekend.
They immediately drew a po-faced response from Vodafone, which thundered that thy would create a 'digital divide'.
That may not be the only reason they are unacceptable. In truty, the mobile industry does not want to see any kind of registration at the tills, because it would limit sales.
This was amply demonstrated around 18 months ago when the Home Office asked operator CEOs to consider registration at point of sale in a bid to stamp down on street crime. Not likely was the response.
Vodafone has a point, however. The scheme is totally unworkable.
Firstly, not everyone takes foreign holidays and therefore has a passport.
Second - and do you think the government possibly overlooked this one? - if Al Qaeda operatives can build a bomb, they can probably manage to rustle up a few forged documents.
This measure would not do much to halt international terrorism. But it might stop box breaking* in its tracks.
You'd think operators might be pleased by any chance to stop losses to this fraudulent practice. Not a bit of it. They are still inclined to turn a blind eye to false connections, as they are convenient means of getting fast sales.
However neither box breakers nor international terrorists need quake in their boots, this ‘plan’ is never a likely to see the light of day.
If 42 day detention did not make it onto the statute book, nor will prepay registration in Carphone, Tescos and Woolies.
* Box breaking is the practice of buying a subsidised prepay handset and sim card and splitting them up for resale at a profit. As much as £10 can be made per handset, and organised gangs will systematically buy thousands of such phones from retailers to make an easy profit.