Finally, a stolen phone database!
First Let’s start with some technical details. Every GSM phone in the world have an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identification) number. This number is unique to every simple device, like a MAC address for a network equipment. You can find your mobile handset’s IMEI number by typing *#06# on your mobile and in case your phone is already stolen, and you still have the box, you’ll be able to find this number on a sticker on the box.
Now how does it work, every time you turn on your phone, like every in network a hand shake is made between your device and the network you are trying to connect to, in this case your phone provider. During this hand shake, the IMEI as well as your SIM card details are sent and checked. at least that is the theory. This means also that your provider knows every simple time you switch your SIM card from a phone to another.
In Europe, a lot of countries already have a system in place to share a blacklist of stolen phones, the list of participating countries can be found here. Unfortunately so far, the USA was not on this list and stolen phones could be used in the US without any problem or risk for the thief. The good news is that it is about to change and people suffering of being ripped off will at least have the consolation their devices will not be able to be used and this is why carriers agreed:
Wireless carriers agreed to disable stolen smartphones after pressure from U.S. regulators and a police chief who told the industry “shame on you” for not helping to stem a spike in violent robberies.
But, this is partially true, in Europe the problem being seen is that we’ve seen a migration of the stolen items to countries that were not using this database to check on the device used allowing full benefits from a stolen device. So if this decision is already a good step forward from the North American carriers it is still far from being perfect and the GSM Association should enforce some rules and policies to all members.
Let me know what you think and if you believe it is going to stop larceny.
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