Yet another threat to civil liberties

The Government is planning to introduce a register of all mobile phones to clamp down on drug dealing and criminal activity.

The Minister of State with special responsibility for Drugs Strategy, Pat Carey said this new legislation would be used by the Gardai to monitor all citizens who own a mobile phone, which is practically every adult in the country.

In a very soft interview on RTE today,(2nd item) the Minister outlined his plans for the new measure. At no time was he challenged on the potentially serious consequences for the civil liberties of ordinary law abiding citizens.

Here are a few suggestions for any hardened drug dealer looking for ways to circumvent this proposed law.

Mug the nearest person to you and use his phone.

Buy a phone using a false name/id.

Ask/pay/threaten somebody to buy a phone for you. They can simply claim that it was mislaid or robbed.

Buy a phone in any other European country where such draconian laws are immediately rejected out of respect for civil liberties.

Give up the dangerous activity of drug dealing and set up a lucrative trade supplying ‘clean’ phones to the criminal underworld.

The bottom line is that this latest draconian legislation will be practically useless in the fight against crime.

It will, however, provide the State, along with the already operational power to store and access mobile and fixed-line data and the recent watering down of the right to silence, with even greater power and control over the lives of ordinary citizens.

6 thoughts on “Yet another threat to civil liberties”

  1. While no legislation is a panacea, I don’t think it is fair to say this legislation will be ‘practically useless’. In relation to bank accounts, the money laundering legislation has proved extremely useful in tracing the kind of corruption that Public Inquiry claims to be very concerned about. In the same way, traceability of mobile phones could be extremely useful

    Surely any stolen phone would be disconnected once the owner reports it?

    I agree that there are serious issues about access to mobile phone data which would need to be addressed.

  2. Anti money laundering legislation is targeted at a particular activity in a particular industry and involves a tiny number of people.

    The mobile phone legislation will target/monitor every person with a phone and that is practically every adult in the country not to mention a good percentage of children.

    The monitoring of millions of citizens will be done on the presumption that they may, at some point, commit a crime. This is unacceptable in most democratic states.

    Allegedly, the legislation is aimed at catching ruthless drug dealers and not just another excuse for monitoring innocent citizens.

    It is obvious that criminals and indeed anybody objecting to the legislation can easily obtain a ‘clean’ phone.

    I would be interested to hear how the State is going to prevent this development or in other words, how is the State going to enforce the proposed law.

  3. Money laundering legislation is targeted at every adult (or child) who has a bank account, post office account or credit union account. Is this really a ‘tiny number of people’?

  4. Money laundering laws are in place, just like most other laws, as a means of combating particular criminal activity.

    Citizens who have bank accounts are not required by law to provide personal details to the police so that they can be monitored in case they break the law, any law.

    Comparing money laundering laws with this proposed law is not comparing like with like and is, in any case, peripheral to the main point.

    The mobile phone legislation has one purpose, to monitor the private business/movements of all citizens who own a phone.

    Any criminal with an ounce of intelligence will easily circumvent this proposed law but in the meantime millions of innocent citizens will be monitored by the State.

    I have no doubt there will be many citizens, including myself, who will refuse to comply. What will the State do then, intern us?

  5. Get a grip, do you really think there are people out there who have the ability to listen to everyones phone calls, how much money would this cost and why would they want to. It would be cheaper to personally watch the suspected criminals than to keep on top of everyones phone calls.

  6. It has nothing to do with you calls being listened to. The point is that you have to give personal details to the Cops so that at any time they can find you. They could listen to your calls if they wanted to and they could track you movements more easily by tracking you phone.

    Given that the police in the South are completely incompetent and allegedly involved in framings and hoaxes. I’m really not that keen on them having some much info and potential power over me

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