Budget 2018 was just announced and the government in one of its proposals has decided to allocate Rs. 15 crore for setting up a mobile phone tracking system in the country. According to the government, this new system will help bring down the number of counterfeit handsets and discourage theft. The system - Central Equipment's Identity Register (CEIR) is to be set up under Department of Telecom (DoT), and it will seemingly block all services on stolen or lost mobile phones on any network even if the SIM card is removed or IMEI number of the handset is changed.
Government-owned telecom operator BSNL has been entrusted with the task of setting up CEIR at its Pune center. According to government's document, CEIR is also expected to protect and preserve consumer interest and facilitate law enforcement authorities for lawful interception.
Moreover, CEIR will be integrated with the IMEI database of all mobile operators. So one that is in place the setup will act as a central system for all network operators to share blacklisted mobile terminals so that devices placed under the said category in one network will not work on the other, even if the SIM card in the device is changed, it said.
IMEI number - a unique 15-digit serial number of mobile devices - is allocated by global industry body GSMA and bodies authorized by it. In case a person loses a mobile phone, the victim usually can mention the IMEI number of the handset for tracking. "The theft of mobile phones is not just a financial loss but also a threat to the personal life of the citizens as well as national security," the Union Budget 2018 document said. CEIR will be regularly updated with IMEI of lost, stolen or counterfeit handsets.
The Department of Telecom has barred telecom operators from providing service to any mobile phone with fake IMEI number but the operators face problem in identifying handsets with duplicate IMEI number.
CEIR will also help operators in identifying handsets with fake IMEI numbers as it will have details of handset model to whom the IMEI has been originally allocated. The DoT is also set to notify rules that will make tampering of IMEI number a punishable offense with up to three years of imprisonment.
Inputs from PTI