In order to stop mobile theft and mobile cloning, the Telecom Ministry of India is planning to introduce a Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR). This will be a database of IMEIs (International Mobile Equipment Identity) numbers that are unique to each smartphone and mobile devices. The IMEI number is the 15-digit number of mobile phones, which makes it possible to identify each mobile phone. The main objective of the CEIR will not be to stop the mobile theft, but to identify, find and bring down the mobile theft cases in India.
According to the Indian Express, it will be implemented in the coming weeks, and once implemented it will help the consumers whose smartphones are lost and stolen. They can contact the Department of Telecom (DoT) through a helpline number after filing a police report about the stolen or lost mobile phone.
After a mobile phone is reported as being lost or stolen, the DoT will then proceed to blacklist the IMEI number of the smartphone which will make it impossible for the mobile to have any access to a cellular network. In other words, after the IMEI is put into a blacklist, then the smartphone can’t be used by any other person even if they put another SIM card into it and use it as a regular phone. It will be a useless. Other than controlling the growing smartphone and mobile theft in India, the CEIR will also make the “IMEI-based lawful interception” too.
The idea about the plan of national registry of IMEI numbers was first pitched in the National Telecom Policy back in 2012. At that time, a pilot project was developed and conducted by BSNL’s IT Project Service unit in Pune. Then in July 2017, the DoT announced the implementation of the idea and a pilot project was conducted in the state of Maharashtra.
The DoT’ identity register will have a database of the IMEI numbers which will comprise of three lists – White, Grey and Black. The mobile phones with IMEI numbers kept in White list will be allowed to use the network while that in the Grey list will be one that will have access to connection but will be under supervision. And lastly, the mobile phones with IMEI on the Black list will be the mobile devices which are reported as missing, stolen or lost. They will not be allowed to access the network.
It should be noted that India is not the first country to do so, as similar equipment identity register has been used by other countries as well. Countries like Australia, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Turkey, and the UK too use their own version of equipment identity register to keep an eye on the equipment. In that light, India’s CEIR will have access to the GSM Association (GSMA) global IMEI database as well which will help and compare the IMEI numbers to identify the counterfeit devices.
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