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Cell Phone SIM Cards Lead To Terrorists' Trail 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the ease-of-communication dept.
Cliff Stoll writes "The Times of India reports that cell phone SIM cards used by the terrorists in Mumbai were purchased in Kolkata (Calcutta), using fraudulent papers. The papers belonged to the dead uncle of a 26-year-old man living in Kolkata; he is suspected of being a collaborator of the terrorists. The paper states that this highlights 'the continued vulnerabilities in the system which have repeatedly been exploited by the terrorists and their collaborators to obtain cell phone connections. "We've booked them for cheating and forgery as they produced fake documents to get the SIMs. We've also slapped conspiracy charges against them for they had an ulterior motive. The arrests will throw light on the Mumbai terror module," Kolkata police's Jawed Shamim said.'"
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Cell Phone SIM Cards Lead To Terrorists' Trail

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  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @11:39AM (#26020645) Homepage Journal
    Don't get me wrong. I like it when they can catch the "bad guys". And I know this story involves countries OTHER than the US.

    But, I've been looking around here for a new cell phone, and yes..I'm eyeballing the iPhone. But, one thing I recently found out is, AT&T is requiring you give them your damned SSN to get one activated?!?! What the hell is this?

    I know they're wanting to do a credit check...but, in lieu of that why can't I just give them a deposit? I've been with Sprint since I got a cell phone back in about 2000 or so. I did the deposit thing with them, and no problem. A year or so they sent it back.

    But, from what I can tell...they don't want to do that for the iPHone. I've been searching and some site seem to say (and this sounds like old info about activating at home) to put in 999-99-9999 or 141-11-1111 (supposedly an internal ATT code) for the ssn when registering..and it will set you up for some "Pay as you go" type plan.

    I'm still looking into all this....but, really, if you put down a deposit, and pay the bill, why they hell do they even need to know much more than minimal information about a person? Just to track you in case you do something bad?

  • by mangu (126918) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @12:09PM (#26020937)

    one thing I recently found out is, AT&T is requiring you give them your damned SSN to get one activated?!?! What the hell is this?

    The SSN is a practical primary key for identifying people, that's all. The big problem in using the SSN is that some federal agencies assume that anyone who calls them with an SSN number and the corresponding name is in fact that person.

    If the SSN weren't used in this way, I would have no objection in giving it to anyone who asked. After all, my car license is in plain view for anyone to see. No one ever assumes that a person mentioning a car license plate is the owner of that car.

  • What's so great? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yams (637038) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @12:20PM (#26021025) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand how this is relevant to slashdot. What is so technically challenging about a fake SIM card? I am from India, and we see fake IDs here on a regular basis.

    These people are terrorrists - if they can procure an AK-47, why should anything prevent them from procuring an illegal ID and illegal SIM card.

    Maybe India can make tougher laws, but that would only hamper those who need to to obtain a SIM card for legal purposes - more paperwork. I doubt that terrorists would be bothered by paperwork.

    I can understand Times of India (or any other Indian newspaper) publishing this article, but why Slashdot? If we're going to blindly publish articles from TOI, why not publish this one [indiatimes.com]?

  • Agreed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheLink (130905) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @12:31PM (#26021103) Journal
    I agree. I don't see anything wrong with everyone being given a unique number.

    It's very wrong to assume that if someone can spit out that number and name, they're that person.

    The trouble is what is the alternative? A password? Someone will start recording/stealing the passwords and you have a similar problem.
  • breaking news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ConfusedVorlon (657247) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @01:08PM (#26021405) Homepage

    not only can everyone in the country get a mobile phone. Terrorists can too!

    Quick - more laws needed. Terrorists should not be able to get phones.

  • Re:Easy solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @01:10PM (#26021429)

    Since you need an individualized warrant from a Federal court to wiretap an American citizen inside the US, (yes, even with the new FISA, IIAL and I have actually read the statute), I don't see how registering the SIM to an identity has anything to do with privacy or free speech. Unless it's your position that (1) citizens do not have to submit to the lawful surveillance under the terms approved by Congress and monitored by a court of competent jurisdiction, (2) the courts are not effecting Congress' intent properly or (3) the terms, as written by Congress, are entirely unconscionable.

    If I were writing the law, I would likely include more protection for privacy than is currently included. That political preference, however, does not mean that I think the law outside the bounds of reasonableness. There is room to disagree without hyperbole.

    * Oh yeah, the telecom immunity part of the law was bullshit because the law was clearly being violated from 2002-2006. That said, here's an analysis of the law going forward: http://volokh.com/posts/1215699055.shtml [volokh.com].

  • by MrEkitten (902303) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @01:55PM (#26021855)
    Since I work for AT&T, I'll let you in on a secret. If you are willing to pay a $500 deposit, you do not need a SSN. There are many people who are foreign exchange students, VISA workers, and others who are able to use AT&T service with no SSN. I will admit that we try really hard to use one for credit checks and the such, but it is NOT required for those who persist. If you do not give one, a $500 deposit per line IS required. This would have to be paid upfront, before the activation of the line.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @03:50PM (#26023091) Homepage

    Finally after 25 minutes of phonecalls and I don't know how far up the chain they had to go, they ran into someone that knew the law. "she's right, we cannot demand her SSN as a condition for getting the card." (you cannot simply say "well it's your right not to give out your SSN but if you don't, we won't give you this card") She was issued an alternate unique identification number.

    This is very interesting... I once responded with a "Yes" to a bank's (Capital One) offer of a credit card for my business (not even me). Well, they wanted my SSN anyway. I refused and they rejected my "pre-approved" application. I filed a complaint (on the bank-provided form), and, eventually, the government told me, the bank is within their right to deny the application. It wouldn't even have bothered me that much, if it was for the fact, that I was, supposedly, "pre-approved"...

    Your story, if true, would place it in a different light. But it may also be, that the store has run a credit-check on your grandma during all those phone-calls, was able to identify her by other parameters (name, address), and was satisfied with her credit-record...

    Because I'd be a bit unnerved, if, for example, I was legally-obligated to provide rental housing, for example, without a credit check. It is a lot harder for a landlord to terminate an agreement with tenant, than it is for a bank to cancel a credit-card...

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Sunday December 07, 2008 @03:56PM (#26023153) Homepage

    There are many people who are foreign exchange students, VISA workers, and others who are able to use AT&T service with no SSN.

    At least one of the SIM-cards used by Mumbai terrorists was purchased in the US (New Jersey [mypetjawa.mu.nu])...

    No, I'm not saying, it should be necessary to submit everything to a cell-phone provider — that's how things are in less free countries like India or Australia. But it is still interesting...

  • Re:IDs and Sim Cards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argiedot (1035754) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @04:34PM (#26023541) Homepage
    It's India, man. Really, ID checks are incredibly lax here, even now. I know people who've gotten a SIM card replaced on expired ID, and it could have been fake and no one would have noticed a thing.
  • by v1 (525388) on Sunday December 07, 2008 @06:29PM (#26024619) Homepage Journal

    I made a followup post [slashdot.org] after doing some additional digging and making some calls. The SSA webpage itself has some contradictions here, in one place implying that unless there's a law for it, they can't require it. Then in another place they say there may be "consequences" if you deny it. So I have contacted them for clarification.

    Though it does seem for all the instances where someone beat around the bush awhile they always found an exception, and I can't imagine companies going to the trouble on such a consistent basis unless they had to?

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

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