Cell phone measure gets poor reception

Plans announced by the government in the wake of the Korydallos Prison helicopter escape to oblige mobile phone users to submit their particulars when they buy prepaid cards met with opposition yesterday, mainly from cellphone companies who fear that it will damage their business. Justice Minister Nikos Dendias announced the measure after it appeared that convicts Vassilis Palaiocostas and Alket Rizai used prepaid mobile phone cards to communicate with the people that helped them escape. However, the sudden announcement, which drastically changes the current system whereby customers do not need to give any personal details when they buy a card, prompted a backlash. The president of the National Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT), Nikitas Alexandridis, said implementation of the plans would entail many practical and legal difficulties. Meanwhile mobile phone company sources told Kathimerini that if enforced, the decision would prove costly as firms would have to process some 10 million applications, which would also have to pass security checks. Currently, mobile phone cards can be purchased from kiosks as well as stores, prompting questions about how the checks could be carried out. Mobile phone firms also believe that it would result in 20 to 30 percent fewer calls being made via prepaid cards, as many people who desire anonymity, not just criminals, would find alternative ways to communicate. «We are studying the legal frameworks that exist in the European Union so that we can find the right balance between respect for privacy and the maintenance of public order,» said Transport and Communications Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.

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