Parliament on Thursday evening enacted a law that allows the identification of users of prepaid mobile phone cards, with some MPs hailing the step while others called it a damp squib.

The legislative proposal passed with 25 votes for, 14 against, and one abstention.

The bill was sponsored by Dipa MP Marinos Moushiouttas, who recalled that the first such proposal had been tabled way back in 2009.

According to Moushiouttas, this new capability to identify users of prepaid cards, who will no longer enjoy anonymity, enhances the toolkit of law enforcement to investigate and crack down on crime.

The MP conceded that the step on its own will not “wipe out” crime, but if it helps save just one life it is worth it.

The bill had passed muster with the Personal Data Protection Commissioner.

In his own remarks, Akel deputy Aristos Damianou said only naïve people think that state agencies can’t already monitor anyone at any time – meaning that legally tracking the users of prepaid cards won’t offer much more.

However, he added that the legislation should go through, as it deprives the police of one more “fig leaf” – one less excuse for their inadequacy to combat crime.

His colleague from Akel, Giorgos Loukaides, pointed out the existence of numerous apps that require no phone number, and which therefore maintain anonymity.

In a similar vein, the Greens’ Stavros Papadouris commented that criminals are always a step ahead of law enforcement.