DOT plans central registry of IMEI numbers to tackle cell phone theft and counterfeit devices

The Department of Telecom (DOT) is setting up a Central Equipment Identity Registrar (CEIR) to streamline management of stolen phones. The idea is that telecom service providers will be able to track stolen IMEI numbers, and prevent the device from being activated even when the sim card is replaced. The registry will also help curb the menace of counterfeit cell phones, and will help in preventing frauds based on mobile phone cloning.

Initially, there will be a six month pilot program by the Pune team of BSNL, which will then be extended to other operators in Maharashtra. The telecom department has issued a notification, which says "The theft and cloning of mobile phones has become a serious problem, it is not just a financial loss but also a threat to personal life of citizens and national security." All permitted IMEI numbers will be in a whitelist, non-conforming phones in a grey list, and stolen numbers will be black listed, according to a report in The Economic Times.

Many operators around the world use the services of a national or industry managed CEIR to streamline handling the theft of mobile phones. Such a registry will also help legitimate sellers of second hand mobile phones who can check if a phone is stolen with the registry before putting the device back in the market. The Department of Telecom has decided to manage the CEIR itself, so that the cooperation of all the telecom operators in the country is ensured.

The DOT plans to use the CEIR to mainly curb instances of mobile phone theft. When a mobile phone is stolen, a user simply calls the service provider and informs them of the theft. Once the SIM and IMEI are validated, and the identity of the caller verified, the operator blocks the IMEI number and passes on the details to the CEIR. The CEIR then blocks the IMEI number nationwide, by passing on the details to other operators. This service is free to the affected users. If the cell phone is recovered, there is a mechanism in place to activate the cell phone for use again.


Updated Date: Jul 05, 2017 15:25 PM