Half the UK now under suspicion

The Metro newspaper in London is reporting that if you see anyone carrying more than one mobile phone, you might well be a terrorist.

People should report anyone suspicious who owns more than one mobile phone, a counter-terrorism campaign launched on Tuesday is urging.

All well and good.

However, an increasing amount of people are carrying two handsets — one for work, one for personal — particularly given the fact that no one handset does ‘everything’.

I generally don’t leave the house with less than three handsets.

Goodness knows what that will make me in the eyes of the Great Unwashed British Public.

I’ve got visions of being backed into a corner in some tube station by a horde of growling normobs, whilst I yell, with no small amount of pleading, ‘THEY’RE ON CONTRACT, THEY’RE ON CONTRACT!’

You see, the campaign points to the fact that bad people often carry lots of anonymous pay-as-you-go handsets:

One poster says: ‘Terrorists need communications. They often collect and use many anonymous pay-as-you-go phones, as well as swapping Sim cards and handsets.’

So, when you’re out and about with your N95 and your iPhone, beware the newly suspicious normobs.

(Thanks for the link Mark)

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

13 replies on “Half the UK now under suspicion”

I’ve got a dozen old phones, more PAYT SIMs than I know what to do with, AND I have a tan.

The Police say ‘Terrorists will not succeed if suspicious activity is reported to the police.’

I say ‘Terrorists will not succeed if people refuse to be terrorised.’

This just isn’t true… and it’s what happens when you rely on a free paper for commentary on issues beyond what colour pants Jordan wears.

Take a look at the actual Met police request and the poster being referred to. They *do not* say ‘2 phones’ anywhere. That’s the Metro’s invention.

It says “Have you seen someone with large quantities of mobile phones? Has it made you suspicious?” 2 is not a large quantity and I’m not suspicious of Ewan’s 10 phones because I know he works in the industry. It then says “information received is thoroughly analysed and researched before, and if, any police action is taken.” so, no, police will not drag your mum off to a secret prison camp because she has a spare SIM card.

It’s may not a great advert – much of the criticism may be valid – and the value of public tip-offs is probably only really known by the security service, but let’s not swallow the rubbish the gutter press invents and comment on the actual request.

Ben Smith’s last blog post..Excellent delivery notification / re-scheduling by SMS

I read 1984 when i was a teenager and was really impressed but never thought it would happen
but now we have cctv, dna database’s beiing pushed ID cards and the police pushing people into informing on strangers in the street etc – hey he’s got a beard a back pack he’s brown he’s got two phones terroist !!

in the 60’s people would have been marching but we dont seem to care

mark’s last blog post..Empty Space playlist for 19th February

@Terence: Spot on. But that thinking doesn’t do anything for the share price of military industrial complex firms. Or for the ease of repealing centuries-old hard-won liberties.

@Ben: What are you smoking? 😉 You actually *expect* Metro to report it like it is? Of course they knew that it would be contentious. I’d expect nothing less from an ‘Immigrant builders BBQ’d my dog while working on my villa in Torremolinos’ Daily Mail group rag.

Seriously, well done for bringing reality into the discussion.


A few stats to go along with this suspicion.

There are 6.6 billion people on the planet. There are 3.3 billion subscriptions of which 2.6 billion are unique users. This means 700 million subscriptions are duplicate or triplicates.

In the United States, there are 301 million people. There are 255 million subscriptions of which 219 million are unique users. This means, in the United States, 36 million subscriptions are at least duplicate.

People carry more then one handset for a number of reasons, including the business executive for business and pleasure, the modest to low income user who has multiple plans to get the best rates on international or evening/weekend rates, and the newly employed not wanting to use the geeky phone their employer gives them. Not to mention those looking for one for music.

Just for the record – the source for all this paranoia is the latest ‘anti-terrorist’ campaign by the Metropolitan Police. I arrived in my office this morning to find a full size poster stuck to my cupboard with the inscription, ‘You’re rumbled Body!”

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The mobile phone poster is one of three in the set – the others deal with dodgy geezers with cameras and unusual activity around residential properties.

So if you are the sort of guy who has multiple camera phones who likes parties in the early hours of the morning – then you are in for an interesting month or so.

Is this a clear case of discrimination against Mobile Geeks?

When I was going through security at Stansted a few weeks ago my coat, which had two phones in, was selected for searching. I was asked – completely seriously – to explain why I had two phones.

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