Buying a prepaid mobile phone in the UK may soon require a passport

Prepaid mobile phones have long been a travelers best friend. In the past, anyone could pop into the local store, and walk out with an activated mobile phone with a local number.

Sadly, visitors to the UK may soon have to add one more step to their prepaid purchase; showing identification. Apparently the UK government has decided that prepaid phones can be used by terrorists. All customers who purchase a prepaid mobile phone or prepaid SIM card will have to be registered in a national database according to a plan that may put in place as early as January 2009.

This step is just the first of what should become a national UK database of all mobile phone users.

The UK is not the first country to make buying a prepaid phone a hassle. Japan has long made it impossible for short term tourists to get their hands on any kind of prepaid solution (other than phone rentals).

Turkey actually goes one step further, demanding that all tourists register their mobile number with the local mobile operator. Visitors who fail to register their number will actually have their service disconnected while in Turkey!

At the end of the day, this is just another bit of security theater made to let us think we are being kept safe. Terrorists will always find ways to get their hands on mobile phone cards, and once again, it is the regular users and tourists who are being inconvenienced.