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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Notional National Security

From time to time, governments and other organizations come up with smart rules. And after 9/11, rules have got smarter. Many of the rules relate to obtaining information. Consider for example the case for pre-paid mobile cards in India and most other places. To get a pre-paid connection one has to submit a copy of photo-ID and residence proof. One organization – Tata Indicom goes even further. Here is their list of requirements:
  • 1 passport sized photograph
  • Permanent Account number(PAN)/ Form 60
  • Proof of ID: Driving license/Pan card/voter's card/any government issued identity card Proof of residence: Electricity Bill, Landline Telephone Bill/TATA
  • Teleservices bill (Don’t know what this means; most likely a formatting error)

When it comes to post paid services, it is OK to ask for these papers; since the company runs some credit risk. But why all this for a pre-paid connection? Any guess on what’s the utility of this? I couldn’t think of any. How is a mobile conversation any different from a face-to-face conversation? When we talk to strangers, we don’t ask for all these documents- Life still goes on. And if this check could enhance national security, the terrorist has to just walk up to the nearest public call booth to breach it.

But all this information does have some use: it projects to the general populace that the government and other good people are doing… at least something. And may be it enhances notional security if not national security. But I think that, again its got to do only with man’s love for paper, on which I had written earlier.

Of course, while governments and agencies get smarter, the common person in the street remains the same. The shopkeeper will often let you have the connection with a gentle warning, “You can give me the required documents later.”

1 comment:

Patrix said...

Cricket Wireless offered in US right now gives you a cell phone connection even without an ID or credit check...they say, it is targeted toward the immigrant population.