An article in today’s Wall Street Journal talks about the heat prepaid mobile phone services are taking for the high rate of criminal use. Since many these phones can’t be tracked (pay in cash for the phone and minutes), they have become popular with criminals. About 12% of the US mobile phone market is prepaid.
Vodafone K.K. started collecting customer information last year.
So far most companies that are collecting information are doing it voluntarily. Fears of terrorism is a major factor.
In much of Europe, consumers seeking a prepaid account don’t have to give their names and addresses. But some countries are beginning to change that. Fearing that prepaid phones will be used by terrorists, Switzerland passed a law requiring prepaid users to register their names and addresses starting last July. In December, Swisscom AG, Switzerland’s leading phone company, blocked 130,000 prepaid lines because their owners didn’t register their names and addresses before an October deadline.