Tracing phone communications: mission expensive and impossible

Herald Sun, a local tabloid, reports:

VICTORIANS will be surprised to learn that the major telecommunications companies, including Telstra, charge the police when they check on calls by criminals.

This year Victoria Police’s total bill will be about $800,000.

The service is provided at cost, but Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon wants it to be free.

Telstra said it received more than 300,000 requests a year nationally from police.

I’m not surprised. But these are interesting details. Looks like every call list costs the police tens of dollars – while same information is provided for free to the criminals in question (as they are Telstra’s, Vodafone’s and Optus’ customers for the telephone service). Which is not fair.

And while the number of requests on their cost grows every year, criminals are getting smarter:

Police are increasingly worried crooks are using false identification to buy bulk pre-paid SIM cards so their calls stay anonymous.

Opportunities for anonymous communivations today are endless. The premise is free connection to the Internet that is available in many locations in Australia and elsewhere in the world. You can then sign up for any of services that give you free calls (Live Messenger, Skype, Wengo, you name it). One bit that is a little difficult is anonymous payment. Opportunities are in prepaid/gift credit cards as well as alternative payment systems. But payment is only required for interfacing with the legacy telephone system. It is interesting to see how availability of free and anonymous communications will transform crime – but there’s little doubt that it will.

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