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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Malaysia gets tough on mobiles

This has been reported yesterday, but allow me to still add some comments to it.

Malaysia, just like other countries, starts to register pre-paid users of mobile phones - other countries also push for the registration or usage of names in other electronic tools, while Japan actually planned to ban prepaid phones a while ago. The main reason here is that during election campaigns, but also at other times, SMS begin to circulate spreading unfounded rumours - the article mentions unsubstantiated SMS warning of a new Tsunami.

Communications minister Lim Keng Yaik however, plays the world's favourite card: "It's getting very dangerous. Prepaid cards pose a security threat because nowadays terrorists are using cell phones to detonate bombs."

Is spreading fear the way to go in order to get unruly users to get more ruly? If it relates to bombs and terrorism, there are different ways, even better ways. A package, a car, suicide bombers and so on are much more effective. A cell phone, especially one not totall destroyed, only leaves traces to the so-called Mastermind.

All in all, it is also a nuisance. How often do visitors - businesses or tourists - use a prepaid to contact their friends, colleagues, family? How would they handle the fact that they need to provide intimate details about their background? Especially, since they might have to wait to get the prepaid phonecard, while they might need the card urgently? Who is constantly carrying their passport around? The article also mentions foreign workers, for which the registration might be an additional hassle, especially since a registration might increase the price of prepaid phonecards. What happens to the data collected - I submit my passport details to the retailer, who passes it on to... whom?

Just some simple questions!

(By Asia Business Consulting)