According to an interview in a secret
location with someone claiming to be close to the heart
of government (known to us only as "Barry"),
the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands are to be taken away from
mobile operators from 1st April 2007 and redeployed
to other functions. This means that all mobile phone
users in the UK will need to switch to a 3G handset
before that date. Part of the transcript of our conversation
tell us some more about these government plans.
Well, what Whitehall wants to do is end the licence
for that part of the radio spectrum early and redeploy
the frequencies to something else.
Can thay do that?
Sure, under the Anti-Terrorism and Domestic Communications
Act of 2005, the government has pretty much all
the power it needs. If it deems the frequencies
to be important to the security of the country,
then it can take back the frequencies without compensation.
Anyway, these companies spent a lot.. I mean really
a lot.. of money on their 3G licences. The
government's going to be helping them out in the
transition to 3G, isn't it?
it's a national security issue? What are the frequencies
going to be used for.
there are two areas. The 1800 megahertz band is
going to be used for a new network of gambling kiosks
that will be linked to the forthcoming supercasinos
planned for the UK. The government wants a gambling
kiosk in every street corner and public place by
the end of 2008.
that's hardly national security, is it?
Well the money raised from gambling will
go towards the other system, using the 900 megahertz
band. That's going to be the State Safety and
Security System. That's quite an interesting development.
Well, it's the next step after national ID cards.
As you know, each card will have an RFID tag in
it, and the new monitoring system will be able to
track the movement of the RFID tags as the card
holder moves around. These will be placed in public
areas, pavements, roadsides, major buildings.. that
kind of place. One neat feature of the system is
that it can detect people who aren't carrying
their ID cards and it will then distribute a photo
of the offender.
going to cause quite a stir with civil liberties
groups, isn't it?
Well.. if you haven't done anything wrong, you have
nothing to fear. I understand that the fine for
a first offence is only going to be around five
thousand pounds or so. Of course, once the system
is complete it will be able to identify the offender
from a facial recognition program, and then it will
automatically convict and sentence that person without
having to go through the effort of using the courts.
Offenders will simply have the fines deducted from
their bank accounts, or if it's a second offence
then the police will be sent round to their homes
to pick them up. They're hoping for about 90% accuracy
in the facial recognition program.
what happens if it can't pick up the RFID tag? It
might be blocked by something bulky.. like a 3G
phone, for example.
It's up to every person to make sure that the RFID
tag can be picked up by the scanners at all times.
Again, the system is quite simple.. the fine or
whatever will happen automatically. Ignorance of
the law is no defence, but the government does acknowledge
that a small number of people will be fined in error.
We think the scanners will pick up the tag correctly
in 99% of cases. In the future, we may implant the
RFID tag directly into the subject to reduce the
sounds great - but that means that for every thousand
people who pass by the scanner, 10 will be incorrectly
flagged as offenders?
Well, that's quite a small proportion. And after
they've been arrested and searched by the police
and had a DNA swab taken, then they're quite welcome
to lodge an appeal against the fine.
Wow.. that's going to cause a stir when it gets
out. Thanks for that.. can I buy you another drink,
Better not, I think I saw one of the black-out helicopters
hovering across the street.
With that, out contact vanished into
the night and we haven't heard from them since. If anyone
else remembers seeing a black helicopter hovering outside
the Springtime Jester pub in Shoreditch, then
please let us know.