People have gotten used to living in fear for the last four years or so. Some people even seem to look for things to be afraid of. If that’s you, this will help. Federal agents are investigating whether a surge in sales of disposable cell phones has a link to terrorism. In particular they are looking at the purchase of 150 such phones from a Target store in California on New Years Eve and the attempted purchase of 60 from a Wal-Mart in Texas earlier in December. The Wal-Mart employees called police because of suspicions over the odd purchase, so the sale did not happen.
In theory, the phones are perfect for terrorists and other baddies. You don’t have to register them in any way and so there is no way to track the use of them. In fact, disposable phones were used to detonate the bombs used in the Madrid train attacks in 2004.
The challenge comes in when there are dozens of very legitimate reasons someone would use these phones for. They are great to have in a glove compartment for emergencies, to give to older relatives or children or for people with bad credit. The possibility exists that the purchases are perfectly benign. The challenge, therefore, is to balance legitimate uses with safety concerns.