Feeds

UK mulls ban on tiny mobiles to block prison smugglers

Asks retailers to stop sales

Top three mobile application threats

UK police and government officials are considering a plan to block the sale of small mobile phones designed to look like car key fobs after confiscating an increasing number of the mini-mobes from prisoners.

Car key fob phone

Phone too popular with prisoners

"A range of techniques – including body orifice security scanners and high-sensitivity metal detectors – has seen the [overall] number of recorded seizures increase," a prison service spokesman told the BBC.

"We're now working closely with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and Trading Standards to remove these small mobiles from sale in the UK, as well as legislating to block phone signals in prisons."

The National Trading Standards Board has also asked British retailers to stop selling the tiny telephones. It also points out that such small devices are "electrically unsafe meaning they could cause fires and injure consumers through electrocution."

Last year, prison officials confiscated 7,000 phones and SIM cards from prisoners in England and Wales last year and the handsets are no doubt popular with prisoners who have been smuggling painfully large devices and their chargers.

"The latest key fob mobile phone has the potential to increase the number of mobiles in prisons simply by the nature of the design and size," said a spokesman for prison officer's union POA. "The POA believe all prisons should have blockers installed and prisoners found in possession of a mobile phone should be prosecuted."

There's a healthy market for mobile phones in prisons, partly for privacy but also to avoid cripplingly high charges – a 15 minute call costs $17 from some US prison payphones, and that's a lot of laundry duty.

SOCA is taking the unusual step of asking motor manufacturers to get involved and try and stop the trade in such phones by enforcing their copyrights or trademarks over counterfeit devices.

"We are aware of the existence of these mini-mobile phones and that a number of them bear resemblance to car keys bearing manufacturer logos," said a spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. "We agree that these devices are potentially damaging and will work with SOCA on this matter." ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Leaked pics show EMBIGGENED iPhone 6 screen
Fat-fingered fanbois rejoice over Chinternet snaps
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
US mobile firms cave on kill switch, agree to install anti-theft code
Slow and kludgy rollout will protect corporate profits
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.