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FCC, carriers team on stolen cellphone database

updated 10:40 pm EDT, Mon April 9, 2012

FCC to have common pool to deter stolen

The FCC as well as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have reached an agreement to potentially improve tracking down stolen cellphones. A common database will register phones and their IMEIs that were marked as stolen or lost and deny them voice or data until they're considered safe. The effort will start with individual databases in half a year, followed by a united pool in the year and a half following that point.

The aim is to reduce the incentive to steal a phone, as it would be rendered useless as soon as the owner reported it stolen. As proposed, it would be harder to stop GSM phones due to the ability to switch carriers with SIM cards, but both AT&T and T-Mobile have been developing ways to block the phones independently of their SIM cards, likely by checking the device itself rather than just the profile on the SIM card.

One possible workaround for thieves will include altering the IMEI, although the measure will help prevent most common theft.

3G and 4G tablets should also be covered as part of the plan. Regional carriers aren't immediately included, but are expected to follow suit within the next two years. [via Wall Street Journal]

By Electronista Staff
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  1. chas_m


    Joined: Aug 2001


    Should have been

    implemented no later than 2007. Disgracefully late, but better than nothing I suppose ...

  1. dmwalsh568

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2008


    What about errors?

    So what happens if someone inputs the wrong data into the database and your phone suddenly goes offline? What controls are in place to deal with the inevitable wrongly accused phone?

    If there are no decent controls then this could be used maliciously to harass an ex by reporting the phone as stolen.

    And if we want to put on tinfoil hats this will make a quick way for the government to turn off the voice and/or data of undesirable elements....perhaps during a protest?

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