Department of Telecom ( DoT) is working on stricter rules to make tampering of International Mobile Equipment Identity Number (IMEI) number- a 15-digit serial number unique for all mobile devices- a punishable offence with up to 3 years of imprisonment. This move will help curb issues pertaining to fake IMEI numbers and also ease tracking of lost mobile phones.
The IMEI number is used by a GSM network to identify valid devices and therefore can be used for stopping a stolen phone from accessing that network. It helps the security agency to track mobile phones as well as calls made from them.
The DoT has barred telecom operators from providing service to any mobile phone with fake IMEI number but the operators face are problems in identifying handsets with duplicate IMEI number. In one of the tracking case of mobile phone, the Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cell of the DoT found there were around 18,000 handsets were using same IMEI number.
“It is difficult to track mobile phones because of duplicate IMEI numbers. The DoT is working on rules to make tampering of IMEI numbers a punishable offence under Indian Telegraph Act,” a government official said to PTI.
The proposed rules are being framed in a combination of section 7 and section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act. Section 7 gives DoT power to make rules for the conduct of telecom or telegraph services and section 25 deals with damaging of the telegraph line, machines and related equipment.
The rules will be notified in official gazette once finalised,” the officer said to PTI.