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Proposed House Bill Would Enforce Stricter Sale of Burner Phones

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People usually associate a "burner phone" with a cheap, basic phone. You know, the type where you can enjoy a game of Snake without consuming all of your battery life. More recently however, manufacturers have re-introduced low end smartphones as burner phones. Available with a prepaid SIM card, these devices may be considered disposable by individuals. And for those who feel unsure about sharing their identity with their mobile security, this is a suitable device to use.

It is for this very reason why a lawmaker from California is pushing for a new legislation to be passed. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA, 14th), representing the district of San Francisco and the Bay Area, has introduced the new legislation early this week. The draft bill has been entitled Closing the Prepaid Mobile Device Security Gap Act of 2016 (or HR 4886).

Once the legislation passes, prepaid phone retailers would be required to collect information from their customers during purchase. Such information include their name, address and date of birth.
Just like on a long-term phone contract, the provided information would then be verified using a credit card, a driving license number, or a Social Security number.

The main purpose of the bill would be to crack down on prepaid phones believed to be used by terrorists and other individuals in their criminal activity. Currently prepaid phones may be purchased without any record-keeping requirements or identification, making it easy for terrorists and criminals to gain access to a mobile device easily. With the approval of the legislation, the representative believes that it would pave way for authorities to track and prevent crimes such as modern-day slavery, drug trafficking, and even acts of terror.

Speier's bill comes as the best line of defense against the growing terror threats throughout Europe, wherein the terrorists involved have been said to use burner phones to carry out their vicious attacks. In last year's attacks in Paris, burner phones were said to have been bought in bulk and disposed of every time a communication was made. And by being able to use a different phone number and device, terrorists can easily evade the metadata collection programs used by even the most advanced intelligence agencies.

The bill has since been referred to the Judiciary committees and the House Energy and Commerce for review. While many seem to be conscious about the idea behind the bill, there are others who are rooting for it. The full text of the bill has not yet been released publicly so there isn't much to know about what the bill would entail. But if it were up to you, would you be in favor of this bill?


Source: ZDNet

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17 comments:

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  1. Crooks will always find an alternative

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  2. Won't pass. Prepaid companies have too much to lose requiring ID to buy phones....

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    1. Outside the US, showing a government issued ID is almost always a requirement when activating a prepaid account. It doesn't seem to have hurt business.

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    2. Unlike those outside of U.S., we Americans value the protection of our PRIVACY from our ever-growing government.

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  3. More of our privacy lost, in the name of national sercurity. And as we speak our borders are open to all people wishing to harm us.
    If our goverment wanted to crack down on terrorist,why not stop funding dictators and regimes who fund radical Islamic jihadist.
    Thank you Dennis for bringing up a good article

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  4. in india you cannot buy even a sim card without showing your id proof. but in usa the id proof may be misused for other kinds of identity thefts,so a credit must be enough.

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  5. Offhand, I can think of one way to defeat this, which would be to get some stool pigeon off the street to buy the phones for you. Dennis, you said yourself that ID is needed outside of the US, yet that didn't stop the Belgian terrorists from amassing a stockpile of burner phones.

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  6. Heavy-handed government surveillance doesn't work.

    Criminals adapt while everyone else gets stuck with a useless, invasive, and (most importantly) ineffective burden.

    Case in point, the Patriot Act and TSA.

    Then there's the Prohibition-esque "war on drugs," which turned out to be the gift we keep giving cartels.

    The problem is that ideas are judged by the "good intentions" of those proposing them rather than their actual long-term consequences.

    Anyway, cheap internet-capable devices are more of a boon to secularism and freedom of thought than they are to religious extremism.

    After all, most of what's on the internet is absolutely haram.

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  7. This type of law making accomplishes only one thing: eroding the general publics privacy. As already pointed out and quite obvious: criminals will easily bypass this tiny extra bump in their road... I do have some hope though, as it seeks people are finally waking up and can see thru this kind of garbage law making proposals.

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    1. I hope you're right but I think we're in a fringe group here at least if the Apple vs FBI polls are any indication. Hopefully those were not a good representation of our national outlook.

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  8. Why doesn't the government require people to have their every thought registered with a government ID? That's probably the best way to combat terrorism. Hey! I'm protecting everyone's safety!

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  9. Another politician taking away our liberties. Using terrorism as an excuse.

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  10. I would never give my address, date of birth, drivers license or social security number to any store employee. There's a big, big difference between giving your private info to a phone company and giving it to a store employee, many of which have a criminal past. This law will cause more crime than it prevents and it won't do anything to stop terrorists. I have a hard time believing our law makers don't know that.

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  11. ”People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”

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  12. Does this apply to expensive prepaid phones like the Galaxy S7 or even mid range phones that cost $100 or more? I don't consider those "burner".

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    Replies
    1. If a high end phone, such as S7, is prepaid without giving personal information, then technically it is a burner phone.

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  13. All prepaid phones are burner phones.

    Does anybody with an IQ higher than room temperature at Santa's Workshop really believe the difference between a $5 phone and a $50 phone matters to somebody planning to blow themself up?

    Even to a smuggler making 6 or 7 figures, the cost of phones is a drop in the bucket compared to their other business expenses, like bribing politicians and law enforcement.

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