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Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Old 06-08-10, 03:19 PM
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Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Lawmakers seek prepaid cell crackdown, cite terror

NEW YORK Alarmed by the use of hard-to-track prepaid cell phones by terror suspects, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Texas Sen. John Cornyn have introduced legislation requiring consumers to produce identification before buying such phones.

The bill has been praised by law enforcement and has bipartisan support, even as civil liberties groups have raised privacy concerns and some terror experts say it won't deter bad behavior.

Schumer, a Democrat, and Cornyn, a Republican, are hoping to schedule hearings on the bill through the Judiciary Committee. Schumer has urged Attorney General Eric Holder to back the measure.

Prepaid phones can be a lifeline for people with limited incomes or poor credit, allowing them to purchase a device and a limited amount of calling time without commiting to a costly contract. Phone companies sold $16 billion worth of prepaid cell phones last year, and the devices are hugely popular in both the U.S. and countries around the world.

But since the phones can be purchased anonymously and are thrown away after use, they've long been a favored tool of drug dealers, gang members and even white-collar criminals looking to cover their tracks.

In recent years, such phones also have been linked to suspected terror activity including that by Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American accused of plotting to bomb Times Square. Law enforcement officials said Shahzad had used a prepaid cell phone to purchase a car in which to hide the bomb and to communicate with co-conspirators in Pakistan.

A handful of states and several countries require registration to purchase a prepaid cell phone. In an interview, Schumer said the Shahzad case, combined with the growing use of prepaid cell phones in criminal cases, had persuaded him that federal regulation was needed.

"If law enforcement has a legitimate need to surveil, let them surveil," Schumer told The Associated Press, adding, "you can make sure privacy is protected."

That's not a view necessarily shared by civil liberties groups and other advocates of digital privacy, who say they have both legal and practical objections.

"The Supreme Court has always upheld the principle that you have the right to speak anonymously that the decision to identify yourself as a speaker is an aspect of speech itself," said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Tien also noted that many people, especially younger ones, regularly swap phones and SIM cards and buy used cell phones, further blurring the identity of the phones' users and owners.

"For a variety of reasons, this doesn't sound like a `get off the ground' kind of idea," he said.

Schumer disagreed, saying the identity of prepaid cell purchasers would be kept private by phone companies in the same way the identities of regular cell and landline phone owners are protected.

So far, no major phone company has objected to the legislation and some say they fully embrace it.

"We are living in a time when unfortunately our public safety rquires small gives by everyone," Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said.

Still, Jack Cloonan, a former FBI special agent and counterterrorism specialist, said the legislation would not prevent terror plotters from getting access to the communication tools they need.

"The bottom line is the terrorists, whether they're the Pakistani Taliban or whether they're closely aligned with al-Qaida, use technology to their advantage," Cloonan said. "They try to stay ahead of us and we're always playing catch up."
I read that this may be a response to the Time Square bomb suspects reported use of a prepaid to buy the vehicle he used, but the FBI didn't seem to have any problem catching him anyway.

I can understand law enforcement wanting to use this as a tool, but citizens have the right to free speech and privacy. Law enforcement does not have a right to monitor private communications. At the same time there is a right to free movement, but there are many barriers to owning and operating a vehicle.

I don't see how this would be unconstitutional, but it does encroach on civil liberties if not violate them. The fact that the feds aren't collecting the information but requiring a third party to collect and retain information is irrelevant. In many ways having a 3rd party hold the data actually reduces the privacy protections of the individual, both from the 3rd party and the feds. Reviews of actions taken under the patriot act show how cavalierly the feds request such "private" data, often in violation of the law.

I will be curious to see how many legislators who oppose voter ID requirements will support this. I realize voting is a right, and one with special protections against barriers to participation, but the same arguments of disenfranchisement of low income people would seem to apply here.
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Old 06-08-10, 03:23 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Typical gov't overreaction.

Does Schumer do anything right? Once again I wonder.....what good are liberals if they can't even get it right on civil liberties?
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Old 06-08-10, 05:40 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

'Tits on a boar hog' is the answer to your question RD.
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Old 06-08-10, 09:20 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Chuck Schumer and John Cornyn are idiots. Why don't they clean oil off some birds or something.
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Old 06-10-10, 06:11 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Once again, USA the land of the free.......

Alright, now the prepaid cells are tracked, I'll just resort back to payphone. What the fuck difference does that make?
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Old 06-10-10, 06:17 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

When i tried to buy a prepaid sim card in Spain, they asked for my passport so i guess other countries do something similar?

Not sure this is unconstitutional but may not be a good idea
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Old 06-10-10, 06:18 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Originally Posted by SuperJim88 View Post
Once again, USA the land of the free.......

Alright, now the prepaid cells are tracked, I'll just resort back to payphone. What the fuck difference does that make?
Are payphones even around anymore?
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Old 06-10-10, 06:22 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Very much so. I just called my buddy on a payphone to tell him this awesome story of some dude swallowed refreshing water from some leader singer's mouth.
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Old 06-11-10, 12:11 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
So there'll be a new middleman, is all.....someone buys them and gives them to "undersirables", and if anything comes of it...."Well, I lost that phone 4 weeks ago, officer."
we'll we noticed you have been buying a few hundred cell phones a week so we got a warrant and searched your home and video taped you selling them to criminals.

how many years in ass rape prison would you like?
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Old 06-16-10, 10:42 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Wow, more fucking paperwork for businesses to have to put up with....
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Old 06-17-10, 05:32 AM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Shocked this wasn't done earlier for the "war on drugs." On more than one occasion I've seen a corner drug peddler using three different phones.
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Old 06-17-10, 10:16 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
If pot were legal (and it will be soon enough, you'll see)
Put down the bong.

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Old 06-18-10, 08:42 AM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Originally Posted by BKenn01 View Post
Wow, more fucking paperwork for businesses to have to put up with....
there are these things called computers that will solve this problem
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Old 06-18-10, 09:02 AM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Was of 1812? Oh, Mr. Hand...
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Old 06-18-10, 04:31 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
Typical gov't overreaction.

Does Schumer do anything right? Once again I wonder.....what good are liberals if they can't even get it right on civil liberties?
Agreed

"We are living in a time when unfortunately our public safety rquires small gives by everyone," Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said.
I'm not surprised, they would love to have everyone on a contract based cell plan.
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Old 06-18-10, 04:43 PM
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Re: Lawmakers seek to crack down on prepaid cells

Yeah, I'm sure he's unbiased...
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