Why SIM Card registration won’t solve crime

Picture this. A man walks into a mall store wanting to buy a SIM Card. A prepaid SIM, so the sales lady, by law is required to ask for ID. Sales Lady will get said ID, write it down on the receipt and it gets filed away somewhere.

Oh, yeah, the ID is just some copy made from Recto.

It is also very easy today to create an ID. Hell, to create a false ID. It is very easy today to forge IDs. Terrorists will simply ante up their game, and buy fake IDs.

PrePaid SIM cards are not just used for terrorism. Their anonymity is often used to digitally assault women. I’ve known far too many people, dear friends who have been Victims of this. I’ve known relatives who are victims of this as well. There is Sex and Crime in the time of New Media.

One of the features of PrePaid SIMs is that the networks can’t triangulate the position. They can never tell you where exactly the SIMs are or where the message was sent.

So I think that SIM Card registration, while it may somewhat help out, it won’t prevent crime. It simply puts an added burden on civil liberties.

What should actually be a better way to solve crime, is to build signals intelligence. Build capacity so that government can track, triangulate positions of perpetrators. Of course, this should be protected by a court order, similar in strength to a warrant of arrest.

We got to fight crime. We got to be able to give Law Enforcement capacity to know their target, to figure things out. But we also have to balance this out with civil liberties, as well as it being the least burdensome for people. SIM Card registration puts burden on a third party, like the mall owner or the Telcos. That middle man should be cut from the equation.

Think of it this way, if we have better signals intelligence this could also help monitor terrorists. It can be an added tool in the fight for global crime, in locating targets in cyberspace.

We have to build capacity, and think long term. We also have to do it, in such a way as it is as invasive as possible. CCTV cameras are useful. They are passive and they can help track crime. London is one city which has them nearly everywhere. CCTV cameras can have the double use of watching traffic unfold. As we’ve seen in Singapore, sensors are everywhere. These sensors help monitor the city and help make things more efficient. It is these kinds of technology that our nation must adapt.

In my humble opinion these SIM Card registrations have limited effect and maybe be too much trouble than their worth. It’ll be a law that would barely, if at all stop crime.

We have to be smarter than that.

Let us not waste our time with half-assed measures, but instead build real capacity. Build a real cyber police force, that not only protects our citizens but become partners with our neighbors and allies abroad in hunting down terror. Build the ability to track criminals, not the general public.

We cannot fight crime by registering everything. Criminals should fear justice. Citizens shouldn’t have to look over their shoulder for that.

The argument could be made that we can’t trust government. That quite often it could be used for the sitting government’s perversion. The protection remain in the anonymity of prepaid purchase, of the protection of the court from abuse. We give government tools to let them do their job, but we shouldn’t make it too easy. Otherwise we are going to see a police state where fear reigns, not truth or justice.