Canada's Wireless Carriers Take Action to Help Battle Smartphone Theft
(Canada Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Industry launches initiative to raise awareness about keeping personal
OTTAWA, Nov. 8, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications
Association (CWTA) and Canada's wireless carriers today announced a
plan of action to assist law enforcement agencies with their efforts to
combat the theft of wireless devices. By September 30, 2013, the
authorization of any GSM or LTE wireless device on any Canadian network
will include verification that the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment
Identity) number of the device has not been reported lost or stolen on
any Canadian network, as well as some international networks that are
available in the GSMA IMEI database.
This new device verification process, which will deny service to any
device that is on the GSMA "blacklist", is designed to help eliminate
the black market for stolen devices in Canada and abroad by reducing
the value of smartphones in the eyes of criminals.
"After comprehensive study, Canada's wireless industry today is
announcing what it believes is the best solution to help keep Canadians
safe from cell phone theft," said CWTA President & CEO Bernard Lord.
"And with U.S. wireless carriers following Canada's planned
implementation by completing similar international database measures by
November 2013, customers across North America will benefit from this
added level of protection."
As part of today's announcement, CWTA is launching a consumer
information Web site and the first in a series of broadcast public
service announcements focused on reminding Canadians of the critical
importance of protecting the data on their smartphones. The new
bilingual Web site - www.ProtectYourData.ca (www.Protegezvosdonnees.ca) - is designed to act as a hub of resources for Canadians to educate
themselves about how to secure their data, as well as how to help
protect themselves from becoming a victim of device theft.
"Our Government has taken concrete actions to build a strong and
competitive telecommunications sector and I welcome this step by
industry to address the serious problem of cell phone theft," said the
Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry. "We will continue
to work with industry to protect Canadian consumers and deliver more
choice through greater competition."
It is imperative that customers contact their service provider to
immediately report a lost or stolen phone to have their device
deactivated. Once the device has been reported, the service provider
can then add the device to the blacklist. All instances of personal
theft should of course be reported to local law enforcement as well.
"The loss or theft of a wireless device can have many implications,"
said Mr. Lord. "At best, it can be a costly nuisance, and at worst, it
can have serious repercussions related to one's personal information
CWTA recognizes support for this industry initiative by the Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), and calls on
the federal government to consider legislative measures that could
augment industry solutions to contribute to the reduction of cell phone
theft in Canada. The UK and Australian governments have each adopted
legislation that makes it a crime to tamper with, alter or remove a
mobile device's identifier. Maximum penalties for modifying or
reprogramming a mobile handset's IMEI number in these countries range
from two to five years in prison. Similar legislation has also been
proposed in the U.S.
Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA)
CWTA is the authority on wireless issues, developments and trends in
Canada. It represents cellular, PCS, messaging, mobile radio, fixed
wireless and mobile satellite carriers as well as companies that
develop and produce products and services for the industry. (www.cwta.ca)
BACKGROUNDERGSMA IMEI Database
The GSMA maintains a unique system known as the IMEI Database (IMEI DB), which
is a global central database containing basic information on the IMEI
(International Mobile Equipment Identity) of millions of mobile devices
that are in use across the world's mobile networks. The IMEI is a
15-digit number that is used to identify a wireless device when it is
used on a mobile phone network.
The IMEI DB also supports what is known as a "blacklist". The blacklist
is a list of IMEIs that are associated with mobile devices that should
be denied service on mobile networks because they have been reported as
lost, stolen, faulty or otherwise unsuitable for use. The IMEI DB acts
as a central system for network operators to share their individual
blacklists, making it possible to prevent devices denied service
(blacklisted) by one network from working on other networks even if the
SIM card in the device is changed.
Network operators who deploy Equipment Identity Registers (EIR) in their
networks use them to keep their own lists of blacklisted lost or stolen
phones. Operators' EIRs can automatically connect to the IMEI DB to
share their latest lists of blacklisted devices with other operators.
The IMEI DB takes the blacklists from the various operators around the
world that are connected to the system and it compiles the data into
one global blacklist.
When a network operator EIR subsequently connects to the IMEI DB, it
downloads the latest global blacklist (or a national or regional subset
of the global list) for its own use. By loading the IMEI DB blacklist
onto the local EIR, all handsets reported as stolen on other connected
networks up to the previous day are now also capable of being blocked
on that network.
Mobile phone users whose devices have been stolen should note that GSMA
does not add device IMEIs to the IMEI DB blacklist or otherwise assist
with incidents of device theft. Device theft should be reported to the
user's service provider and to the police.
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