Stolen smartphones will soon be nothing more than an empty wallet for thieves in the United States.
Major U.S. mobile operators, in cooperation with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have agreed to create a single database with identifiers of stolen mobile and smart phones, reports The Wall Street Journal.
If the owner of a cellular telephone informs the operator about its theft or loss, the operator would add the ID of this phone in the “black list”. The said device won’t be activated in any network.
Initially, the data base will be created with the participation of four operators – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. Within six months they should start their own databases, which would then be merged into a single database. The regional operators are expected top join the project subsequently.
“Now carriers with the push of a button will be able to take highly prized stolen instruments and turn them into worthless pieces of plastic,” said New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “It’s like draining the swamp to fight malaria…. We think this is going to have a significant impact.”
Kelly was speaking at a news conference in Washington announcing the new effort, organized by the Federal Communications Commission and CTIA-The Wireless Assn., the top industry trade group.
Sprint and Verizon, which operate on CDMA standard, already have a tracking system in place through ESN (Electronic Serial Number). GSM operators AT & T and T-Mobile don’t have such services yet.
In parallel, operators will seek the introduction of criminal liability legislation in the United States so that the tempering with ID phone could be made a federal crime, said the Associated Press, referring to Sen. Charles Schumer.
ltimately, such a database of stolen smartphones is aimed at reducing the number of gadget thefts. From January to October 2011 about 26,000 electronic devices were stolen in the New York, and 81 percent of these were phones. In Washington, DC, the number of phone thefts has more than doubled from 2007 to 2011.
Operators in several European countries and Australia maintain such databases of IDs of stolen or lost gadgets and phones.