The Department of Telecom (DoT) wants to create a register of IMEI numbers of all mobile phones. Says the move will help consumers whose mobile phones are lost or stolen.
“Theft and cloning of mobile phones has become a serious problem as it is not only a financial loss but also a threat to personal lives of citizens as well as national security”, stated the DoT office.
- The Telecom Ministry is ready to roll out a Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) — a database of IMEIs, the 15-digit numbers that uniquely identify each mobile device.
- There is a substantial number of counterfeit phones which are active in mobile networks with fake IMEI numbers.
- The DoT can then blacklist the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number, effectively blocking the device from accessing any cellular network in the future.
- The idea to prepare the registry of mobile identification numbers was first conceived in the National Telecom Policy-2012.
- A pilot for the project was developed and conducted by state-owned BSNL’s IT Project Service unit in Pune.
- In the interim budget for 2019-20, the government allocated Rs. 15 crores to the DoT for the CEIR project.
The equipment identity register is practiced globally including Australia, the UK, Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Turkey among others. In line with global practices, DoT’s identity register will be a database of IMEI numbers that will consist of three lists – white, grey and black.
With benefits, threats are also under the umbrella
Mobile phones with IMEI numbers in the white list will be permitted for use, while those in the blacklist will be the ones that are reported stolen or lost and will not be allowed to access the network.
No doubt, the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) is going to be very helpful for the Indian consumers but one can’t deny the fact, this service will invade the user’s privacy and misuse the data for personal benefits.
All over the world, big companies, political parties, and some research agencies are leveraging sensitive user data for personal and business motives. With the introduction of this system, the government has to take rigid steps to protect the consumer’s data.