Lords vetoes UK pre-pay ID checks


It follows proposals by state and territory police in Australia to introduce a 100-point identity check, with customers required to present documents such as a passport or birth certificate to purchase SIM cards. Australian authorities claim the move will help them track down criminals.

However, the House of Lords said last week that such a scheme would not deliver any significant new benefits to the investigatory process.

Meanwhile, Mobile Industry Crime Action Forum (MICAF) and Telecommunications United Kingdom Fraud Forum (TUFF) spokesman Jack Wraith said the initiative would spur a black market for SIM cards.

The debate has been prompted by the increasing use of SIM cards as detonating devices in terrorist attacks and organised crime, where suspects are found in possession of multiple SIM cards.

After the June 29 terrorist attacks, when two cars carrying gas cylinders and nails were found in central London and a burning car crashed into Glasgow airport, British police tracked a SIM card found on one of the men accused and alerted Australian authorities.

Australian police charged the man, Muhammed Haneef, 27, with supporting the bomb plot by giving his SIM card to the other two accused.

Haneefs defence was that he passed on the SIM card so the others could take advantage of his mobile tariff. It has not been established whether the SIM card was used in the foiled attacks.

In the House of Lords on July 16, Viscount Waverly presented the question of whether the Government would make it compulsory for proof of identity to be produced when purchasing SIM cards.

The House of Lords said: The compulsory registration of pre-pay ownership would not deliver any significant new benefits to the investigatory process and would dilute the effectiveness of current self-registration schemes.

Wraith said the UKs position was to encourage voluntary registration of mobile phone users via the Immobilise website, which currently has 21 million registrations.