Will Congress impose restrictions on prepaid cell phones?

certain companies will only sell you one or two prepaid phones at a time. It’s company policy, but a few retailers are trying to pass it off as law, which it is not. For now. Senator John Carona from Texas has proposed, among many other restrictions, a purchase limit of three prepaid cell phones at a time. This is in response to gangs and drug dealers who use prepaid phones as a means of business.

“Prepaids are popular with criminals because they are cheap, accessible, untraceable and discardable,” said Carona, R-Dallas, during a news conference at Dallas police headquarters.
Beyond the purchase limit, Crona’s proposal includes the presentation of a state-issued ID for purchase, and would force retailers to track who is buying them. However, many companies already do hand over records to law enforcement. Jayne Wallace, spokeswoman for Virgin Mobile, says that they hand over records “in response to subpoenas and court orders.” Well, you don’t have much of a choice in that case, do you, Jayne?
“Many law-abiding mobile phone users value their privacy and prefer not to provide personally identifiable information, including their name and address,” Wallace said.
I think that’s what’s going to hold this up a bit. Yes, there is an issue with criminals using prepaid. But there are plenty of other prepaid users who value their privacy. Even further, some users of prepaid rely on the service, lest they wouldn’t have wireless access at all.
Wallace said that a requirement to collect customer data “would increase the cost of service to consumers and likely decrease access of many less affluent consumers to a service that is important for personal, economic and security purposes.”
I’m not quite sure why this would increase the cost of service. But if it’s somehow true, it’s another consideration to make before this bill gets some serious attention. [Houston Chronicle]]]>

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  1. Katie on May 18, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    i love my prepaid phone i hope nothing ever happens to them i would be mad since i have a prepaid phone right now it’s boost mobile if someone did i would have their ass

  2. candy on October 19, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Wal-Mart in texas is restricting the purchase of prepaid phones to 2 per transaction and when asked why, I got a nasty response that it is a state law because of drug dealers! how funny is that?

  3. Peter Kent on October 20, 2009 at 4:46 am

    Hi Candy. That is a bunch of bunk. Prepaid phones have little to nothing to do with drug dealers, terrorists, etc.
    They have a LOT to do with phone traffickers. These guys buy up as many prepaid phones as they can LEGALLY and then unlock them and resell them overseas. But limiting it to two per person, they prevent a trafficker from going to all the local Walmarts/Kmarts, whatever and mass buying out everthing in one trip. Or so goes the theory.
    Phone traffickers have been getting massively sued by Virgin Mobile, Tracfone, Att and Tmobile in the last few years, very successfully.
    Two phones per person is designed to slow them down. It has nothing to do with justice, natonal security or anything like that. It has everything to do with keeping the traffickers from taking profit from the prepaid companies.
    In other words, it is strictly about money. Period.

  4. teddy rroosevelt on December 13, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I thin that they should ban these phones and force the phone companies to come up with some kind of a program where you cant do the prepaid crap without some kind of documentation. They forced the healthcare issue down alot of peoples throats so they can do this i think. Besideds there is no war on drugs its a joke