ID for PAYG Update: Vodafone says "no", Home Office says "we're consulting"

20 October 2008

The Register has reported today that the Home Office denies they have finalised any plan for requiring ID when purchasing a prepaid mobile. The information would be used to build a database on mobile users under the auspices of preventing terrorism. The Home Office says they need to consult in order to build a consensus:

Of course there is a balance between privacy and our liberty which is why we have said we will be consulting on this and seeking a political consensus. No decisions have been taken and we will be consulting in the New Year.

This smells like typical gov speak for "This is going forward but we're happy to start a few more committees in the meantime."

Vodafone deserves some credit for their stance, although one suspects it is motivated by fear of seeing PAYG sales plummet rather than their support for personal privacy. 72% of Vodafone's 18.5m UK customers are on prepaid plans.

Vodafone does not support mandatory registration for its pre-pay customers and has not made any 'contingency plans' to start requiring registration for the purposes of a Government data collection scheme.

PAYG 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 a passport, they are not excluded from using these services.

TOPICS:   Privacy

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