Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones

In a move by the UK government, passports will be required to purchase mobile phones.

Currently there are around 27 million on contract accounts and 49 million pay as you go subscribers in the UK. Under the plans everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be required to register their identity on a national database.

Privacy campaigners claim it's the latest move from the UK government to create a surveillance society. Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: 'The bigger the database, the greater the risk of accident, error and abuse.'

The move is targeted at the 49 million pay as you go customers. They can be purchased with cash and customers do not need to provide their name, address or credit card details.

Senior officials in the Home Office have privately warned that the database scheme is impractical, disproportionate and potentially unlawful.

Recently the UK government suspended plans to create a giant database for all phone calls, emails, text messages and web sites visited in the United Kingdom.

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