Policy on Speakeasy makes me feel queasy

I do intend to do something more detailed (and thoughtful, perhaps?) on elements of the new programme for government here in Ireland, but this deserves a separate mention:

Require all mobile phones to be registered with name, address and proof of identity in order to stop drug-pushers using untraceable, unregistered phones.

1. Registration won’t stop drug-pushers communicating in an untraceable fashion.
2. Unregistered phones are far from untraceable. Duh.
3. What is the rational connection between “registration of phones” and “drug pushing”? I have a feeling that the number of unregistered users is much higher than the number of drug pushers?
4. Proof of identity? Why? I don’t need to give proof of identity when I put a letter in the postbox. I can understand the necessity when dealing with postpaid bills etc (if I’m going to sign up to a rental deal, it’s reasonable for the company to check that I am who I am) – but this would be a big leap.

Those who know me know that I take delight in slagging off the most extreme of privacy-protectors as Chicken Littles, but the simple factual presentation of this (registration and identity checks will stop the pushers), as well as its location in a section on “DRUGS” in a chapter on “Justice” is unfortunate, to say the least. Sure, make a case for mandatory registration, but for God’s sake make it under a heading like “communications” or (even) “security”. Cause, I mean, we’re all on board in the war against drugs, right?

(Speakeasy is one of the brand names used for a pre-paid, registration-optional service by a mobile phone company here)

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4 thoughts on “Policy on Speakeasy makes me feel queasy

  1. I would go as far to say that I might consider ceasing all use of mobile phones if this becomes a reality. Although certainly phone numbers are easily identifiable give a concerted effort at geolocation or work back from friends phone books or call records, I do value the degree of anonymity and ease of use afforded by the lack of compulsory registration.

  2. We need to watch this one; it will probably be after the summer, but if there’s some indication on when the bill is being drafted, it might be worth writing a few letters…

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