[Dave Birch] It’s a tenuous link to identity, but I thought readers might be curious about an initiative launched by the British government last week. Apparently we have a Minister for Crime Reduction and said minister (Mr. Vernon Coaker) has begun “new moves to break the link between mobile phones and crime” with a workshop where key players from the mobile phone industry — such as manufacturers, networks, academics and law enforcement — were challenged to imagine how the multi-functional handsets of the future can be redesigned to be less tempting and less useful to thieves and criminals. Amongst other objectives, the minister wants to know “what can be done to prevent criminals using phones to facilitate crime”. There’s nothing like aiming high.

My idea (patent pending) is that when you want to make a phone call, you have to punch in your national identity number first. Then, the phone company will check with the government to see if you are a criminal, and if you’re not then an IVR will ask you to clearly state whether the call you are going to make is for criminal purposes. If you say “no”, you’ll get a dial tone. If you say “yes”, then you will be sent a text message asking you to proceed to your nearest police station — during office hours only — and turn yourself in.

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Why do you need a workshop for this? All you have to do is walk into a shop in Japan and buy a phone such as the 903i. DoCoMo, at the request of the customer, can remotely reset functions such as phonebook, e-mail, scheduler, data box, call records and screen memos if the handset is lost. Security is further enhanced by a tool that automatically locks all functions when the handset is shut. Unlocking is achieved through biometric fingerprint authorization or a password. The Keitai-Osagashi Service enables users to locate misplaced handsets using GPS technology by accessing the My DoCoMo portal. The 903i comes with the ANSHIN-KEY, an RFID tag carried in a wallet or handbag to automatically lock/unlock the phone depending on the proximity of the key and the phone. And so on.

My new phone has a good Star Wars game, though, so I can’t complain (although the minister might).

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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