Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Major carriers will implement multi-step plan to discourage smart phone theft
The FCC and CTIA announced yesterday a major plan, taking into 2013 to implement a several-step plan to make stolen smartphones worthless to thieves so that consumers will not remain targets on streets. Smartphone theft has sometimes led to violent crime.
Computer World has this account.
There will be a database that catalogues every IMEI smartphone number, enabling remote shutdown. Then carriers will provide users instructions as to placing secure passwords on their phones, and provide applications enabling remote disabling. This is more effective than just disabling SIM cards (as Verizon does now), because SIM cards (small cards which users insert into special slots in smartphones when purchased) can be easily replaced by thieves.
The plan would require consumer cooperation and a kind of “herd immunity”.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) explained the measure on his own site here. He says he will also introduce a measure making it a federal crime to tamper with a phone’s IMEI number, which could still be attempted by thieves.
Greshman College in the UK has this discussion on IMEI numbers.
See also earlier posting on this problem Feb. 10.