Not carrying mobile phone = suspicious activity

When did you last leave home without your mobile phone?

The Register describes cases in Germany and France where people were accused of being terrorists because they didn’t use mobile phones:

By design, phones pass their location on to local base stations. You can gauge how effectively the networks can track you by requesting your personal information from your network provider using a data subject access under the Data Protection Act, or by just running Google Mobile Maps on your phone. The smaller 3G cells in central London give an even better location than on GSM.

Mobile phone penetration in Europe reached an average of 111.26 per cent in 2007 according to ITU estimates, while in the UK it was 118.47 per cent. We love them so much that we are more likely to leave our wallet at home than our mobile.

The location breadcrumbs from these, along with other communication traffic data, are kept as part of a mass surveillance operation affecting everyone. They are collected by the networks, retained for a year, and handed over to the police and other bodies on request.

… Mobile phones and email are used by everyone, including terrorists and other criminals. The data can be instrumental in tracking down criminals, with the caveat that having a bigger haystack does not make it easier to find a needle. But it misses one perverse effect – those who will be stigmatised in the future are those who don’t have traffic data retained.

Could it happen here? As the Government wants to keep tabs on all our mobile phone calls there’s plenty of scope for recording our whereabouts too.

So: is it dodgy if I don’t carry a mobile phone, or dodgy if I carry too many? Confused now.

Perhaps there’s an optimum, state-sanctioned number of mobile phones for people to carry?

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This entry was posted in Big mad database.


  • Presumably people like me who have an unregistered pay as you go phone are even more open to suspicion!

  • The code presumably looks something like this:

    IF COUNT(MOB) =0 OR >1 SETFLAG(Terrorist)=”Poss”

  • Helen Duffett 25th Apr '09 - 2:17pm

    A friend of mine caused uproar a few years back when she got rid of her TV. Now I only watch mine occasionally. Rebellious!

  • I don’t drive or have a mobile phone, or a passport, or a credit card. It gets quite difficult to prove who I am – what’s needed is some form of Identity Card!

  • HTML is built around commands within angle brackets, the greater-than and less-than symbols. > and <

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