Indian Government Announces New Big Rule for Use of Lost, Stolen Smartphones

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The Indian government has announced a bold step to prevent the misuse of lost and stolen phones in the county. The government has announced that it is necessary for manufacturers to register the IMEI number of all mobile phones before their sale in India on its anti-counterfeit and lost handset blocking portal from January 1, 2023.

“The manufacturer shall register the international mobile equipment identity number of every mobile phone manufactured in India with the Indian Counterfeited Device Restriction portal of the government of India in the Department of Telecommunications prior to the first sale of the mobile phone,” the notification from Department of Telecommunications said.

The notification has been issued under the Prevention of Tampering of the Mobile Device Equipment Identification Number (Amendment) Rules, 2022.

For those who are unaware, every mobile phone comes with a unique 15-digit IMEI number which serves as the unique ID of the device. There have been concerns over inability to track lost mobile phones due to the presence of counterfeit devices with the same IMEI on telecom network.

The government has launched the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) project to block and trace lost or stolen mobile phones and added Indian Counterfeited Device Restriction (ICDR) system to curb proliferation of such handsets.

At present only blocking facilities of stolen or lost mobiles are available on the portal.

The CEIR project is working to resolve the issue of lost mobile phones by addressing the issue of counterfeit devices as well.

With the fresh notification, IMEI number of even imported devices will need to be registered on ICDR system, and obtaining IMEI certificates will be mandatory for the import of mobile devices through various customs ports.

“The international mobile equipment identity number of the mobile phone imported in India for sale, testing, research or any other purpose shall be registered by the importer with the Indian Counterfeited Device Restriction portal of the government of India in the Department of Telecommunications prior to import of mobile phone into the country,” the notification said.

The ICDR system has been operational since January 28, 2020. It can be accessed through a web portal for registration and generation of IMEI certificates without paying any charges.

The new system has replaced the old IMEI cloning and duplication restriction system, which was operated and maintained by the Mobile Standard Alliance of India (MSAI)– a private body.
MSAI is no longer authorised for registration, generation or issue of IMEI certificates and the government directly operates the system.

(with inputs from PTI)

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