Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mobile Phone Madness

There are recent reports that the Indian government has recently blocked as many as 25 million Chinese-made phones which were without valid International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers. The Indian department of telecommunications instructed all operators to block cellphones without the all-important IMEI. Why is the IMEI important to the Indians as well as to us and every other country in the world? Because without them it is impossible to prove who made or received specific phone calls as they cannot be traced to a specific handset. There are obvious benefits to this for criminals and terrorists, both of which groups have exploited this loophole in the recent past. The Chinese handsets without IMEI tend to be low-end and from smaller manufacturers who cut costs by skipping the IMEI programming stage before wholesaling.

The same phones that are on sale in India are on sale in Pakistan, and come with the same problems with a few local additions. Aggressive marketing by the cellular companies to meet subscription targets has opened a Pandora's Box of unregistered SIMs, multiple fake SIM registrations against a legitimately registered card and the sale of IMEI-less handsets. The cellular industry here (according to an industry website) is of the opinion that our systems of registration and ownership of mobile phones and their associated software are as yet immature, and there needs to be a 'streamlining' of issues relating to mobile ownership. The PTA has so far blocked over 10 million numbers and PTA officials are quoted as saying that all unregistered mobile phone connections will be blocked before the introduction of a new SIM verification system. The rapid growth of the mobile phone networks has been truly transformative of the way we live our lives and do our business. As ever, the regulatory systems lag behind the technology, and few could have anticipated the phenomenal growth in the telecom sector over the last decade. Our precarious security situation makes the plugging of holes in the regulatory process essential – and if that means knocking out of the system phones without an IMEI then so be it.

ID Card Printers    |  Mobile Identification and Verification Handhelds

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