As many of you may know, the way that it works right now to get a pre-paid mobile is you simply waltz into your local convenience store, slap down some cash, and walk out with a prepaid phone almost ready to go. That may soon be changing if some US lawmakers get their way. Today, a new bill was proposed that would require anyone buying a prepaid cell phone to register (show identification) for it just as they would if they were signing up for a new service contract with a wireless carrier.
As it stands, prepaid phones are used heavily by the criminal element, they are much harder to track and don’t require any sort of formal registration. Senator Chuck Schumer says that “drug kingpins and gang members have stayed one step ahead of the law” due to this lack of registration.
Even speaking for myself, when I activated a prepaid phone for use when I’m in the United States, there was no verification process at all. It wouldn’t let me enter a Canadian address, so I put in an American one and the phone was ready to go in moments. I’m no lawbreaker, but it does demonstrate how easy it is to circumvent the tracking eyes of the law.
“While most Americans use prepaid mobile devices lawfully,” said Senator John Cornyn, “the anonymous nature of these devices gives too much cover to individuals looking to use them for deviant, dangerous means.”