The Tipster Hotline

In another sign that the cell phone is rapidly becoming an essential part of everyday life, mobile phone users across the U.S., Canada and parts of the U.K. now will be able to send anonymous crime-fighting tips though SMS text messages. The service, called TipSoft SMS, comes out of collaboration between mBlox, the world’s largest mobile transaction network, and Anderson Software, LLC, the industry leader in law enforcement tip management software and web applications. In neighborhoods where there’s a great fear of retribution, TipSoft could be a great tool. A user’s information is given an alias, the text is encrypted, and it is routed through several servers while being sent—much like anonymizer Internet-surfing software widely available on the market today. Police or crime-stopping organizations also are given the ability to respond back with additional questions—without ever knowing the identity of the person to whom they’re talking. My only concern is that it could become a tool of pranksters who tie up valuable police time on frivolous or malicious tips. Other than the typical SMS charge from your wireless carrier, there doesn’t seem to be a downside to sending in as many “tips” as you want.

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