The Telecom Ministry of India is taking a step towards curbing the rampant menace of mobile phone theft and cloning in the country. For this, they are rolling out the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) which holds the database of IMEIs, which is the 15-digit number that uniquely identifies each mobile device.
The rollout is expected to happen in the next couple of weeks and with it users, whose mobile phones are stolen will be able to inform the Department of Telecom (DoT) via a helpline number after filing report with the local police.
The DoT will be able to block the device from using any of the mobile networks as the phone's IMEI number will be blacklisted. This move is to protect the 1.16 billion wireless subscribers reported as of March 2019, according to TRAI data.
The primary objective of this program is to facilitate a system which not only discourages the theft of smartphones, as those devices will be rendered ineffective after being stolen.
Having said that, it will also aid in building a database to intercept phones by the law enforcement.
According to The Indian Express, the DoT had declared its plans to kickstart this project in July 2017 and even ran a pilot in Maharashtra.
The concept of a central identity register was supported by the GSMA (GSM Association) which is an organisation representing mobile operators, software, internet companies and other stakeholders in the telecom sector.
Will This Project Succeed?
Most of you might agree that tracking phones via IMEI is not an easy task. In 2017, the mobile theft industry was at its peak as thieves has found ways to alter the IMEI numbers of smartphones using multiple software and something called an Ultimate Multi Tool Kit which could be used to change the IMEI number of any smartphone.
Such devices still exist.
The question here is, if thieves can change the IMEI number of a smartphone, then what good would it be to know the IMEI number of a phone that has been stolen?
The thief can easily change the IMEI number using any of the above methods and that would prevent the stolen smartphone from being blocked by operators.
Clearly, there is a loophole in this process that can be exploited by many.
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