Daily Archives: 2006-07-28

Stolen mobiles story

I was just on Sky TV to debunk today’s initiative from the Home Office. The Home Secretary claimed that more rapid notification of stolen phone IMEIs between UK operators would have a significant effect on street crime.

I’m not so sure. Most mobiles stolen in the UK go abroad – the cheap ones to the third world and the flash ones to developed countries whose operators don’t subsidise handsets. As for the UK secondhand market, most mobiles can be reprogrammed (even though this is illegal). Lowering their street price is, I expect, a hard problem – like raising the street price of drugs.

What the Home Office might usefully do is to crack down on mobile operators who continue to bill customers after they have reported their phones stolen and cancelled their accounts. That is a scandal. Government’s role in problems like this is to straighten out the incentives and to stop the big boys from dumping risk on their customers.

Health IT Report

Late last year I wrote a report for the National Audit Office on the health IT expenditure, strategies and goals of the UK and a number of other developed countries. This showed that our National Program for IT is in many ways an outlier, and high-risk. Now that the NAO has published its own report, we’re allowed to make public our contribution to it.

Readers may recall that I was one of 23 computing professors who wrote to Parliament’s Health Select Committee asking for a technical review of this NHS computing project, which seems set to become the biggest computer project disaster ever. My concernes were informed by the NAO work.