The days of anonymous prepaid mobile phones could be over as it has emerged that the UK government plans to make anyone buying a handset provide identification and register their name and address.

Leaks from inside Whitehall say that "a compulsory mobile phone register [will] be unveiled as part of a law which ministers [will] announce next year."

Crime crackdown

By forcing the 40 million users of prepaid phones to reveal their identity, the government hopes to make it harder for criminals to communicate in private.

So far, according to the Sunday Times, several telecoms companies - including Vodafone, which has 72 per cent of its customers on prepaid plans - have taken part in talks with government officials responsible for drafting the law.

Nevertheless, Home Office officials are already warning Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that the resulting database could itself be illegal. We'll have more on the plans as they become public.