23:10 07th Oct, 2012
TRAI Will Ask For Ban On Imported Mobiles With Fake IMEI Codes
Move aimed at preventing handsets with cloned identification numbers from posing a threat to national security.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to write to the commerce ministry asking it to ban the import of mobile phones with counterfeit IMEI numbers. The International Mobile Equipment Identity number is a unique identification code embedded in each telecommunications device, including tablets that support voice calls, as well as some satellite phones. This number is used by the mobile operator to identify individual devices, thus allowing actions such as tracking a stolen phone and blocking it from the network even if the SIM card is replaced. This acts as a deterrent to thieves, for whom the stolen device is now worthless.
Needless to say, having multiple phones with the same IMEI number could cause all sorts of problems, especially if one of them has been used for an illegal activity. Mobile phones with phony IMEIs are likely to be used by gangsters and terrorists, and it becomes difficult to identify and track such devices. A telecom official said, "TRAI will soon write to the Commerce Ministry to ban such phones. Import of only those cell phones should be allowed which are certified by GSMA and TIA authorised bodies for GSM and CDMA handsets respectively".
The incidence of fake IMEI numbers seems to have been on the rise, ever since the government in 2009 banned handsets without IMEIs, most of which originated from China. It would seem that in an effort to circumvent the ban, manufacturers of such phones have resorted to using cloned IMEIs instead. All said and done, I'm not sure if this measure will impact terrorists, who can import these phones while importing themselves across the border. Even so, banning these devices is a step that should have been taken a long time ago.
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