California Lawmaker Wants to Require IDs to Purchase ‘Burner’ Phones

The San Francisco lawmaker’s bill could accelerate law enforcement’s criminal investigations, but it could also leave a dangerous paper trail, creating entirely new problems like identity theft.

Image via cc ((Photo by Daniel Chee/The Skyline View)

House Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) thinks criminal activity should be easier to track. On the heels of the terrorist attacks in Belgium, she introduced a bill that would require retailers to collect the personal data — full name, home address and date of birth — of all prepaid cellphone buyers.

“The ‘burner phone’ loophole is an egregious gap in our legal framework that allows actors like the 9/11 hijackers and the Times Square bomber to evade law enforcement while they plot to take innocent lives,” writes Speier in a statement.

Called the Pre-Paid Mobile Device Security Gap Act of 2016, Speier’s bill could do more harm than good if passed. Because it calls for retailers to keep detailed records for at least 18 months of everything from buyers’ W-2 tax statements to their Form 1099s, while mandating no security or privacy requirements whatsoever, buyers’ personal information is at risk of being hacked. Likewise, the proposal adversely affects non-criminal pockets of society, including seniors and low-income families, who buy burners because they’re more reasonably priced that phones tied to contracts, and journalists and abuse victims, who avoid contracts to maintain anonymity.

The San Francisco lawmaker’s bill could accelerate law enforcement’s criminal investigations, but it could also leave a dangerous paper trail, creating entirely new problems like identity theft. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York proposed a similar bill to Speier's in 2010, which didn’t even make it to the Senate floor. Will privacy win again?

Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less