The Indian government is making an IMEI database to track stolen phones
India is the second most populous market for mobile phones in the world with almost 1.2 billion active connections. As the only market with positive growth in terms of smartphone sales, India has attracted major smartphone companies across the world to manufacture domestically. At the same time, the market for smart feature phones like the JioPhone is swelling rapidly. While these statistics translate into massive opportunities for phone companies, the citizens also deal with the problem of widespread mobile theft and this large enormous pool of users makes tracking of stolen mobile phones very difficult for the law enforcement agencies.
To remedy this, the Department of Telecom (DoT), under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technolgy (Meity), has been building a nationwide registry of IMEI numbers associated with all mobile and smart devices. Thus, a Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) will be instated in the coming weeks and it will allow the government to keep track of stolen mobile phones. Once the mechanism is in place, individuals will be able to report the IMEI numbers of their stolen or lost mobile phones with the DoT so that devices linked with these IMEI numbers can be blocked. Besides countering theft, the infrastructure should also help curb the cloning of the IMEI numbers of mobile devices.
Apart from the financial loss, the theft of a mobile phone is also a threat to the person’s identity as it can be used to spoof Aadhaar or India’s unique identification (UID) system for – something like a social security number. The government also identifies it as a national threat as stolen or cloned mobile phones are most likely to be used for terrorist activities. The DoT identifies, “a substantial number of counterfeit mobile phones are active in our mobile networks with fake IMEI numbers.”
The CEIR will sort nationally active IMEI numbers in three groups – white, black, and gray. The whitelist will include all the IMEI numbers that are being operated legitly whereas the blacklist will include devices which are reported stolen or misplaced by users. The graylist will include devices which do not comply by the standards but will be permitted to stay in use “under supervision.”
While cataloging all the IMEI numbers in India, the CEIR will also have access to GSM Association‘s global IMEI database so that illegally unlocked devices can be traced and blocked by the Indian government.
Source: Indian Express