Registration of mobile phones in Ireland

Posted: July 2nd, 2007 | Author: jadearama | 7 Comments »

The government wants all mobile phones to be registered. According to the Programme for Government, ageed last month:

The government will … require all mobile phones to be registered with name, address and proof of identity in order to stop drug-pushers using untraceable, unregistered phones.

But I got the following email from the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in January this year:

The idea for a Register of mobile phones was extensively reviewed by officials in the Department. There were many complex legal, technical, data protection and practical issues to be considered. In theory, a Register of mobile phones might seem like a good idea. However, having looked at the situation in other administrations, considered the ease with which an unregistered foreign or stolen SIM card can be used and the difficulties that would be posed in verifying identity in the
absence of a national identification card system, and having consulted with the Office of the Attorney General and other interested parties, it was concluded that the proposal would be of limited benefit, in that it would not solve the illegal and inappropriate use of pre-paid mobile
phones and was not practical.


7 Comments on “Registration of mobile phones in Ireland”

  1. 1 JAMES HAYES said at 10:30 pm on July 3rd, 2007:

    i done nothing wrong, so if the goverment want to know where i am, they can track my phone. look at england and how quick they picked up the bad guys.
    ok i know the do gooders dont want this , but they never want change, they want us all walking the fields of the land and making work for the farmers, cleaning up after them.
    you have noe done anything wrong , let all know where you are, you just might get lost and then???????????????????

  2. 2 Geoglyph Entropy said at 7:14 pm on July 13th, 2007:

    James, I’m not sure exactly who you are referring to, but I’ll assume that you mean the perpetrators of the recent attacks in the UK.

    Firstly, they caught two of them at Glasgow Airport after they rammed the doors at the arrivals terminal. Secondly, MI5 watch a number of people suspected of terrorism – the proposal mentioned above would amount to monitoring the (approximate) location of a large percentage of the population – from a civil liberties angle this would be worrying as it would amount to treating each mobile user as a potential suspect – you might dissmiss this as the concerns of a “do-gooder”. The practical aspect of monitoring such a large number of people is another problem – how many Gardai would it require?

    Knowing someones’ approximate location may not be of much use in a large city, like Dublin, where I live. Looking at dublincrime.com, I see that there have been three murders within a couple of kilometres of where I live – the population of the area is large and looking at most mobile phone users would be a waste of time. (Unlike looking at the usage of a suspect.)

    There have been concerns about corruption of Gardai in Donegal – all it would take is one corrupt Garda with access to the information to make life unpleasant for someone they dislike – it might be done by waiting until the “target” was in roughly the same area as a crime to rope them into an investigation.

    Finally, if I want to get lost, that’s my business. Checking my backpack, I see I have a Dublin Street atlas there – I have a GPS receiver in my pocket (geocaching is a hobby of mine), but I carry those because I want to, not because I’m required to.

  3. 3 Lex Ferenda » Call To The Drugpen said at 4:25 pm on July 23rd, 2007:

    [...] A while ago, I expressed concern at the mention in the Programme for Government of plans to require registration/traceability of all mobile phones in Ireland. Antoin added some information about the former policy of the relevant Department (Communications). [...]

  4. 4 antoin@eire.com » Government gets to look silly on mobile phone registration. said at 7:13 pm on July 23rd, 2007:

    [...] Last January, the Department of Communications told me that it had done an extensive evaluation and decided that making people register their prepay mobile phones was a bad idea. Now the government (not so much the Department of Communications but Pat Carey, a junior minister with responsibility for drugs announced that this was ready to go ahead, in accordance with the program for government. Now, the Department of Communications is going to investigate this again: [...]

  5. 5 The DOBlog » Mobile phone registration said at 8:17 pm on July 24th, 2007:

    [...] One solution proposed to this (which according to the Irish Daily Mail came from Civil Servants in a review of this idea update– thanks to Antoin at eire.com who has a blog post which quotes the Dept of Communications on this topic) would be to implement the Register of Mobiles only after a National Identity Card was introduced in Ireland. In theory, this would give a standardised, State-backed identity (and possibly a unique identifier for the person). However there are no current proposals to implement such a card and previous proposals have met with opposition from various quarters. [...]

  6. 6 Joe’s Blog » Blog Archive » Fluffy Links said at 8:33 am on July 25th, 2007:

    [...] according to an email from the Department to Antoin after consulting the AG and other [...]

  7. 7 Digital Rights Ireland » Say no to a mobile phone register said at 5:26 pm on February 1st, 2008:

    [...] DRI opposes Government proposals to introduce mandatory registration of mobile phones. These proposals will infringe on the privacy of every mobile phone user, as well as being expensive, impracticable and ineffective. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Here’s what the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources had to say in January: The idea for a Register of mobile phones was extensively reviewed by officials in the Department. There were many complex legal, technical, data protection and practical issues to be considered. In theory, a Register of mobile phones might seem like a good idea. However, having looked at the situation in other administrations, considered the ease with which an unregistered foreign or stolen SIM card can be used and the difficulties that would be posed in verifying identity in the absence of a national identification card system, and having consulted with the Office of the Attorney General and other interested parties, it was concluded that the proposal would be of limited benefit, in that it would not solve the illegal and inappropriate use of pre-paid mobile phones and was not practical. [...]


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