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Submission + - Bill to ban sales of prepaid wireless without ID (

mr_mischief writes: The Washington Post headline reads: "New proposal would require identification to buy prepaid cellphones".

According to the Washington Post, "A bipartisan pair of Senate leaders have introduced a first-of-its-kind bill aimed at stopping terrorist suspects such as the would-be Times Square bomber from hiding their identities by using prepaid cellphones to plot their attacks." The proposal says the term of retention by the phone companies should last until eighteen months after deactivation.

At least The Post mentions some of the problems, which is better than many others covering the story. They cover the need for anonymous communications for battered spouses, whistleblowers, and others. They also note the concern that it could be a precursor to registered-only communications on the Internet.

Mobiledia quotes Chuck Schumer as, ""This proposal is overdue because for years terrorists, drug kingpins and gang members have stayed one step ahead of the law by using prepaid phones that are hard to trace," said Schumer. "There's no reason why it should still be this easy for terror plotters to cover their tracks."

Mobiledia goes on to compare freedoms about electronics in the US to, of all places, Thailand, Singapore, and Australia. "Several countries, including Australia, Germany, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand, already require prepaid buyers to register their information."

According to Rueters, Republican John Conryn is quoted as, "A major lesson we've learned from the investigation and arrest of Faisal Shahzad is that we must require individuals purchasing a prepaid cell phone in this country to provide verified identifying information," Cornyn said (emphasis added by submitter to Slashdot).

Michael McAuliff of The New York Daily News editorializes, "We suspect most people will like this measure, but the phone companies, libertarians, and immigrant groups may not be pleased."

Is this really an important power of government, or is it just more grabbing of the privacy and security of normal Americans using a questionable rallying cry?

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Bill to ban sales of prepaid wireless without ID

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