Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Priva-SIM

Last week I went and bought my first Amaysim mobile phone SIM at a 7-Eleven near work. The purpose was to have a pay-as-you-go SIM with cheap data rates that I can stick inside my wifi hotspot so I can have a cheap standby alternative Internet connection to my ADSL one. Amaysim qualifies in the cheap department and its Optus download rates are decent enough (although far from stellar) to work as a backup or if I need a portable Internet connection that is better than the one supplied by my iPhone.
One of the tricks pulled by Amaysim in order for it to be cheap is to sell its product – its SIMs – through third parties, parties like gas stations and 7-Elevens. Which brings me to regale you with the story that took place at the 7-Eleven I attended in order to spend my $2.

Apparently, when buying a SIM, one needs to fill out a mandatory form required by the Australian Government. In the form you need to provide all sorts of personal details, including:
1. A credit card number if you pay for the SIM via credit card (the whole $2 worth!).
2. Passport or other photo ID details if this purchase would make you the owner of five or more prepaid phones.
Don’t ask me why our esteemed government needs these details in the first place. It all stinks of the Muhamed Haneef fiasco, where – lest we forget – the government ended up paying the poor guy an “undisclosed amount” of our tax money in order to prevent further shame. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure Al-Qaeda operatives would buy SIMs with their own credit cards and show off their genuine passport just so they can have more than five SIMs; I dare you to show me a more foolproof way to stop terrorism!

Fiascos do not end there. Instead of giving me a single form to fill, I was handed the entire pile of forms and asked to fill the one on top. Quickly browsing to see what’s below, I was shocked to find the personal details of those that bought Amaysim products from that 7-Eleven before me: their names, addresses, and often their credit card numbers and their passport numbers were all there, glaring for me to abuse.
I didn’t abuse anything, but I was still shocked at this macabre display. Disregard for privacy is one thing, but totally throwing privacy down the sewer is another!
For the record, I filled out my name and address (otherwise available to the public through the phone book) and got my SIM. Unlike other mobile operators that insist on photocopying (!) your driver’s license, Amaysim is happy with you just showing the seller your ID.
Then again, Amaysim does leave your details at the hands of the 7-Eleven staff, all of which are qualified security experts who signed non disclosure agreements upon their employment at their reputable establishment, I’m sure. Not that giving your details to a major telco, say – Vodafone – offers better prospects.
Did I mention privacy protection legislation is stuck in the Dark Ages? Or that all is fair in the name of anti terrorism, even the daftest ideas ever?

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