10/22/2008 11:22:00 AM
Prepay identification plans are afoot
A proposal that would involve registering the details of prepay customers on a national database has been dismissed by the mobile phone industry.
The government’s home secretary office, led by minister Jacqui Smith, is reportedly planning to introduce mandatory registration – with identification through passports – for anyone purchasing a mobile phone, including prepay handsets.
If the legislation were to go ahead, the details of around 40 million prepay customers would be registered.
Vodafone UK’s legal and regulatory director, Jonathan McCoy, said: ‘Vodafone does not support mandatory registration for its prepay customers and has not made any “contingency plans” to start requiring registration for the purposes of a government data-collection scheme.’
It has been alleged by a Sunday newspaper that the government has consulted a number of operators in order to complete a national database of details by registering users of prepay mobile phones.
However, Jack Wraith at the Telecommunications United Kingdom Fraud Forum (TUFF) said: ‘The industry has seen no evidence of any proposals to use any form of passport or identity card as a prerequisite to the purchase of mobile phones.’
Wraith (pictured) highlighted that there had been previous research done in collaboration with the industry, which had resulted in a unified rejection: ‘In 2005, at the behest of government, the industry carried out an examination of the issue surrounding compulsory registration of mobile phones. It came to the conclusion, which was accepted by all parties, that it was not cost-effective, in terms of finance or privacy, and did not significantly deliver any new benefits to the investigatory process.’
McCoy said: ‘Prepay services hold an important role in terms of preventing a digital divide in communications. There is no need for a credit check and if customers do not have a permanent base, or official forms of ID, such as a passport, they are not excluded from using mobile services.’