The main users of burner phones are businesses and criminals. This creates a dilemma for law enforcement and Congress because there are legitimate reasons for owning a burner phone, but if the majority of uses are criminal, something must be done. Criminals have the knack for taking advantage of anything and everything available, using coat hangers to break into cars, credit cards to open doors, and many other inventive uses for already available tools. This does not mean that these tools need to be outlawed, but regulation might be an option worth considering with burner phone purchasing.

What type of Criminals use Burner Phones?

All types. Burner phones are useful to just about every area of crime, and this is why the Government is interested in the technology. Burner phones are effective means of staying anonymous. The main talking point from the United States Government is about Encryption, but burner phones have added another layer to investigations completely void of encryption. Burner phones may not be encrypted, but the communication across the platform appears to be secure enough for criminals to get away with its use.

Are Burner Phones only used by Criminals?

No. There are plenty of legal reasons to use a burner phone. Buying and selling products off anonymous websites, maintaining anonymity when conducting business over the phone, and other activities where having a phone number not linked to personal information is advantageous. Private communication falls under privacy laws which have been well established regarding land line communications. However, digital communication, wireless communication, and specifically Voice over Internet Protocol have driven a need for private, anonymous communication laws.

Why aren’t Burner Phones illegal if Criminals use them?

Burner phones used to be difficult to procure because telecommunication companies did not have the ability to produce phones and phone numbers in bulk at such low cost, but thanks to modern advances in telecommunication technology phone numbers and devices are easily obtained and produced. A simple cellphone can be obtained for mere dollars in almost every corner of the world.

Criminals will always use whatever tools are available to meet their needs. From burner phones to encryption, the idea behind anonymous, private communication will never go away. Understanding how these tools work, and how they can be used for good is a step in the right direction, but tools like burner phones are dangerous because the people using them want to achieve something dangerous, not because the burner phone physically committed a crime. Don’t blame the phone for something a person did.