Sunday, October 19, 2008

They are just taking the piss now

Not a day goes by without yet another piece of illiberal lunacy emanating from this government—it's all slightly wearisome. Today's stand-out story—one that has even Timmy exclaiming Oh fuck off, really, just fuck off—is this bollocks about requiring ID to purchase a mobile phone.
Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance.

Seriously, what the fuck? Where is this crap going to end? And where are the Conservatives: why aren't they popping up saying that they are going to immediately repeal this crap if it comes in?
Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification at the point of purchase.

What if you buy your phone online? Plenty of people do, y'know.

And "other official form of identification"? What—like an ID Card, for instance?

Fucking hell, but these people are such cunts.
Privacy campaigners fear it marks the latest government move to create a surveillance society.

Oh, ya think? For fuck's sake...
A compulsory national register for the owners of all 72m mobile phones in Britain would be part of a much bigger database to combat terrorism and crime. Whitehall officials have raised the idea of a register containing the names and addresses of everyone who buys a phone in recent talks with Vodafone and other telephone companies, insiders say.

The move is targeted at monitoring the owners of Britain’s estimated 40m prepaid mobile phones. They can be purchased with cash by customers who do not wish to give their names, addresses or credit card details.

And why the fuck should they have to? Why does the government have the right to intercept calls as a matter of routine anyway? If I recall correctly (and, of course, I may not), it is still a criminal offence to open mail that is not addressed to you; but now, it appears, it is perfectly OK to listen in on people's conversations or monitor their email and internet traffic.

Has anyone else got a vision of some Civil Service wonk, crouched over a desk with headphones on, listening intently to various conversations? Fuck me, it's just like the fucking Stasi. Leave aside 1984, our lords and masters have obviously watched The Lives Of Others and decided to emulate that.

As Old Holborn points out, the government will not be tracking the SIM number, but the actual device number—the IMEI.

It is a criminal offence—under the Mobile Telephones (Re-programming) Act 2002—to change the IMEI.
  1. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—
    1. on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both, or

    2. on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or to a fine or to both.

Nice, eh? As Old Holborn also points out, you can get software to change the IMEI of your phone. However, I should warn you that under the terms of the above Act...
  1. A person commits an offence if—
    1. he has in his custody or under his control anything which may be used for the purpose of changing or interfering with the operation of a unique device identifier...

And it is punishable with the same sentences and fines as actually changing the IMEI.

Fucking hell: why won't these bastards piss off and die? As Timmy puts it...
No, please, just go and do something useful for a change will you? Drown yourself in your own urine or something.

Quite. Or something more painful. I'm easy.

Just go, for the love of god, go!


whoops said...

was wondering when a post was coming on this! saw it opn the news this morning... it just gets worse. luckily i have several mobiles sitting in drawers that were all PAYG and all unregistered... Getting a SIM without paying for a new phone or having it SENT TO YOUR HOME ADDRESS is impossible so tracking the IMEI suits me for now.

BenSix said...

Has anyone else got a vision of some Civil Service wonk, crouched over a desk with headphones on, listening intently to various conversations?

The NSA have been doing this for years:

Winston said...

Of course, you will need an ID card to buy a phone if you don't have a passport.

What about pay phones, will you have to stick your ID card in those to use them?

Next we'll all have to register our anonymous email addresses, it's the next logical step prior to giving everybody a unique online identity and having to stick your ID card in a reader before you can boot your PC.

Think of all the lovely new crimes that will be created as an excuse for putting your DNA on a database...Failure to inform of a lost or stolen phone, failure to register a phone, failure to inform of a phone sold on, failure to register a change of address, allowing an unregistered person to use your phone. I'm sure they'll think of a few more.

Prodicus said...

I saw The Lives of Others last night for the first time. Funny, that. Not. Chilling. All through the film, all I could think of was this Labour gummint of ours.

leg-iron said...

When your phone is stolen, you'll need to report it immediately (which is tricky, if your phone's been stolen).

Otherwise the criminal using your phone might trigger a response, and you'll find your door kicked in at 3 am.

There's also the small matter of phones bought as presents. Who gets it in the neck when one goes missing?

As for it being illegal to change the IMEI number, well, we all know no criminal or terrorist would do such a thing. It's illegal. Just as they no longer use guns or knives.

Like all this legislation, it will have no effect whatsoever on terrorists (who, incidentally, haven't really been earning their title lately) or criminals. All it will do, like all this legislation, is increase the number of innocent people prosecuted and fined for nothing at all.

It's a tax.

Miss Snuffleupagus said...

DK and Prodicus
You are exaggerating slightly aren't you?

The Lives of Others is one of my favourite films. Just wonderful.

mitch said...

I bet the wonk who dreamed up this terrorist wheeze got mightily rewarded,It lets the government justify anything from arresting rowdy 85 yr olds to .....well anything really the sky is no limit.
Fucking hellski.

Anonymous said...

In Spain everyone buying a mobile for the last 2 years has been registered. And earlier this year everyone with older mobiles had to go to a phone shop and register---or they will cut off your access to the phone system. So we were told.

EU regulation it was said. Lovely innit?

Old Holborn said...

It is also illegal to carry pepper spray

It is also illegal to read out the names of war dead in front of the cenotaph

It is also illegal to sell a grey squirrel

It is also illegal to watch Pravda without having paid the tax

It is also illegal to have sex outdoors

It is also illegal tio impersonate a traffic warden

Just tell them to FUCK OFF

Bill said...

As someone else has commented, I think this idiotic regulation probably come from 'above' (i.e. the EU), because I understand that all PAYG mobile telephones in Spain must be registered and that people have one year to do this; I'm pretty certain I already did this with my own Spanish mobile soon after I got the SIM a few years ago (basically to take advantage of a 'freebie' in the form of additional credit for doing it), but I will be checking to make sure when I am back there in a few months time.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Right, where there's a law there's a loophole

The law:
Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database

The loopholes:

If you are a real terrorist, you just use a fake ID to buy the phone.

If you are a real hoodie, you just mug somebody and steal theirs.

If you are a proper professional crim, you just get your dear old great auntie to buy one for you and give it to as a Xmas present.

If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, you just bring one with your from Shitistan.

If you already own a mobile, you won't need to buy one, by definition.

Hmmm. I can see this working really well!

nightjack said...

Comes to something when I find myself thinking of ways to keep my throw away mobile off the radar. I'm in the Cops y'know and that Jacqui Smith lady, she be my big boss.

I keep an old Nokia Classic type phone that I bought PAYGo without any name or pack drill. This carries the number that I give out to some fairly iffy people. All I can say is that not every contact, witness or victim lives a life free of drugs, chaos and disorder. Now every 6 months or so, when I get fed up of some people ringing me as their personal cop and unofficial legal advisor I go to my newsagents and buy a new SIM for cash. The old one gets a brief introduction to a lighter. The process starts again.

You can only begin to imagine the depth of my joy on learning that some underpaid fuck knuckle data shufflers at the Home Office will now be sitting on the info that can link a number to my name and home address. No chance of a copy of that data finding its way to the black market. No value to that information at all. I never ever give my unregistered number to bad people who might be interested in knowing where I live.

One can only hope that the House of Lords spanners this before it gets anywhere.

I didn't sign up for the Stasi

Mr Angry said...

What a load of cobblahs! This country is more like the USSR each day!

I want those lampposts filled, DK!!!

Tomrat said...

Right on NightJack.

Have none of these clown ever seen The Wire? Making it harder for ordinary people to get access to a service or product only makes the profits associated with it that much greater.

There is a need for strong healthy legislation regarding the monitoring of potential candidates for terrorism and the like; there is also the need for healthy oversight from someone accountable - currently there are neither and alienating everyone (including the hundreds of mobile phone stores in heavily populated asian areas around Leeds and Bradford, whilst I think about it) will only have negative implications.

Seriously will they just bugger off? Its like I called in a plumber to fix the kitchen sink and he started adjusting my TV without asking me and whilst I was watching it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Tomrat, do you mean "while I was watching it" (at the time that ... ) or "whilst I was watching it" (even though I was ...)?

V said...

Ebay is your friend!

Just buy a nice CECT phone from that great democracy called China.

They are unlocked, and the IMEI no isn't registered because the only people know you bought it are on the other side of the world!

Lost in Devon said...

Do these fuckwits really think it's going to change anything? The only people it will affect are the law-abiding public; maybe that's their intention.

I'm sick to death of anti-terrorist rules and regulations. I'd rather die free than live as a slave to a fascist state.

Ελευθερία ή θάνατος! as the Greeks would say...

whoops said...

lost in devon, you may get that choice but it won't be tim osman or any of his terrorist cronies, they only pop up when the us government is in political hot water, it will be our dear leaders wanting to lock you up. for your own good, of course.

call me back said...

72 million mobile phones, wow. That's a lot of personal data waiting to be lost...

But given that the vast majority of mobile phone calls are of the "Now then, wanker" or "I dunno, wot you wanna do this Friday?" I don't envy the guv'mint checking all those calls.

I once overheard a woman in a supermarket on her mobile as she stared at the crisps. "What flavour do we like?" she asked someone at home. How would she have coped in the old pre-mobile phone days? Some poor soul would have had to put up with Smokey Bacon whether they liked it or not.

Now a national database of pointless mobile phone messages is going to take some housing. I can foresee a thirty floor office and data storage facility being built and maintained just in case one of those "How did Spurs get on at the weekend?" calls is really a secret coded message.

whoops said...

they don't need to read every message, a computer searches for keywords.

Kevin Boatang said...

The sudden lurch into a socialist utopia, he maybe a cunt of the highest order but you have to give Brown credit on that one! One week its the great depression and we have to save the banks...

....then with hours his taken control of the whole fucking country. I find it amazing really that he didnt push through 42 days with the excuse that it is needed to stabilise the economy.

Bunch of bastards to a man

Sinwalk said...

Just start each phone conversation with the words "assassinate gordon brown now."..

jaymason said...

Hi Sinwalk,

I already do

Old Holborn said...

OK, I'll show my cards.

In every NOC (network operations centre) of every mobile operator is a caged room. Every mobile operator has several NOC's up and down the country. Orange has a large one in Bristol. 3 has an enormous one in Reading.

In that cage is ONE computer. It contains the HLR. The HOME LOCATION REGISTER. Ever heard your mobile go "" when it is next to the telly? It is telling the HLR exactly where it is. It is telling the HLR what radio mast it should send any incoming phone calls to you to.

Whenever any shit happens, the Police come down to the caged room and look at where everybody with a mobile phone was. They have the key to the cage.

Don't believe me?

These little charmers were nailed by the fact that they were logged onto a mast in Reading, and tracked all the way back to South London, where they lived.

Tomrat said...


Indeed "-while I was watching it-" is in fact, english unlike my unhealthy goring of the language.

Full of cold and up to eyeballs in lemsip; its the only way to fly.