Friday, 2 August 2013

How stolen handphones would be useless?

Retrieved goods: Some of the handphones and an iPad recovered from the businessman.

KUALA LUMPUR: Stolen handphones will be rendered unusable within three hours of the owners reporting the devices missing. And even changing the SIM cards will not reactivate them.

The system, to be introduced before the end of the year, is part of a government crime-prevention initiative to reduce phone thefts.

A telecommunications industry source said that industry regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), issued a directive to telcos in April to comply with the new requirements for this initiative.

MCMC chairman Datuk Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi said the system was to reduce street crime and handphone thefts since stolen smartphones can be sold at half the retail price in the black market.

“Yes, we are doing this. Many countries like the United States, Australia and Britain already have such a system in place. We got the consumers’ backing,” he said.

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He said MCMC was ironing out some technical issues with the network operators before the service was launched.

Mohamed Sharil added that the telcos were not to charge their subscribers for the new service.

The operators had been told to instal an Equipment Identity Register (EIR) so that the 15-digit International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) code that is unique to every phone can be blacklisted if the device is reported stolen. Each EIR will be linked to a Malaysian Central Equip­ment Iden­tity Register (MCEIR), to which the IMEI codes of stolen phones will be forwarded.

The source said all blacklisted IMEI codes would then be stored in the EIRs to render the phones unusable on any network and to block any attempt to reactivate the devices with new SIM cards. Once blocked, the phone cannot ever be reactivated.

“This can help reduce phone thefts and at the same time, assist the police to identify the thieves or anyone trying to reactivate the device,” the source said.

The telcos had been given three months to comply with the MCMC directive and the deadline expired yesterday.

Malaysia will be the first country in the region to introduce this IMEI barring system, according to the source.

MCEIR will be operated by the MCMC, which has outsourced the managing of the system to Nuemera Malaysia Sdn Bhd. The deal was signed about two months ago.

“Nuemera will operate MCEIR round the clock. It will be responsible for monitoring and generating the IMEI code blacklist. The information will be forwarded to all telcos within 180 minutes of the phones being reported stolen or missing,” said the source.

The source said the initiative would be extended regionally and the effort had been endorsed at the recent Asean Telecommunication Senior Officials Meeting and Asean Telecom­munication Ministerial Meeting.
The Star reported in December last year that the rising popularity of smartphones has made them one of the most sought-after loot.

Consumers laud move to block stolen handphones

PETALING JAYA: Consumer associations have given the thumbs up to the initiative to block stolen handphones from being reused or circulated back into the market.

Describing it as a long-overdue move, Federation of Malaysian Con­sumers Associations (Fomca) deputy president Muhammad Sha’ani Abdul­lah said it would contribute towards lowering street crime, especially snatch thefts.

He called on the Malaysian Com­munications and Multimedia Com­mission (MCMC) to work with other regulators in the region so that this initiative can be expanded to other neighbouring countries too. He was responding to a move to reduce phone thefts as part of the Government’s crime prevention measure.

Penang Consumer Protection Asso­ciation president K. Koris Atan said consumers would embrace the move as it would give them peace of mind knowing that their phones would be rendered useless if stolen.

He also warned telecommunication companies (telcos) not to charge consumers for this as the system was already in place.

Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Dr Ma’amor Osman said while this was a good move, he was unsure as to how consumers would reap the benefits as the likelihood of getting back their lost devices was slim.

“I also hope this will not cost the Government much,” he said.

One mobile phone user questioned whether having such a mechanism could work a little “too well”.

“What’s the point of getting your phone back if you can’t use it any more? It is better off lost,” said music teacher, Susan Kuee, 39.

She is also concerned over whether unscrupulous parties could take advantage of the new system to maliciously block other people’s phones.

“Perhaps victims could provide some verifying details before they allow authorities to render a phone useless so that malicious people do not abuse the system,” she said.

- The Star/Asia News Network

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