Stolen Phone Database Goes Live
Database Will Ultimately Go Global, Tacks IMEI Numbers
Back in April wireless carriers and the government announced
that they'd be collaborating on building a new nationwide database to track stolen phones (specifically the IMEI number, not just the SIM card ID). The goal is to reduce the time that stolen phones remain useful, thereby drying up the market for stolen phones and reducing the ability of criminals to use the devices to dodge surveillance. The move came after AT&T was sued for doing little to track or stop theft
, the lawsuit alleging it was more profitable to do nothing and cash in on stolen phone re-activations. The lawsuit (and government prodding) spurred AT&T to develop new anti-theft tools
, and now the first phase of the stolen phone database goes live this week
As of Wednesday, carriers AT&T and T-Mobile will offer a joint database, said Guttman-McCabe. The two carriers use the same basic network technology so handsets from one can be easily used on the other. Verizon and Sprint, which use a different network technology, will offer their own databases, he said.
By the end of November next year, the four carriers will combine their databases so that the vast majority of U.S. cellphone users will be covered. Smaller carriers like Nex-Tech and Cellcom are also getting on board the database. There are also plans to link it with an international database maintained by the GSM Association to stop stolen phones being shipped overseas and used on foreign networks.
Carriers are also expected to ramp up education efforts aimed at reducing theft and resale.