India rolling out nationwide lost cell phone tracking system from May 17

No more nomophobia! At least, not because you lost an expensive cell phone or had it stolen. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), India, is reportedly rolling out from May 17 a new system nationwide — it has been piloted in a few places — to track lost/stolen mobile phones using data from the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR).

Anyone buying a mobile device in India will now be able to check even before finishing the sale whether the phone has been reported stolen or missing. Picture courtesy: Pixabay/Foundry Co

According to a report by the Press Trust of India (PTI), a DoT official has confirmed, “The system is ready for pan-India deployment and is scheduled for launch on May 17.”

The fact that the new CEIR system is ready has also been confirmed to the media by Rajkumar Upadhyay, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Project Board, at the Centre for Development of Telematics (CDoT), a technology development body under DoT. But he mentioned in his official response that the nationwide rollout would be in “this quarter”, without giving a date.

Until now, DoT has been running the pilot for the CEIR system in some states, such as Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and some of the Northeastern states. The services available to the public under CEIR include blocking a lost/stolen phone (thereby taking away thieves’ motivation for stealing phones); unblocking mobile phones that are later found; and checking the request status. To access these services, a customer has to visit the CEIR website.

The website educates the public on ‘KYM’ (Know Your Mobile), so that a cell phone buyer can find out, no matter who they buy from, whether the cell phone being sold is stolen or not. This can be done by checking the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number of the phone being sold, even before the customer hands over any money.

The website said: “Through KYM, you can check the validity of your mobile device even before buying it. IMEI is written on the mobile packaging box. It could be found on the mobile bill/invoice. From your mobile you can check the IMEI number by dialling *#06#, IMEI number will be shown on mobile screen. If the status of the mobile is shown as black-listed, duplicate, or already in use, please avoid buying the mobile.” The CEIR website has listed three ways of using KYM.

Under Government of India rules, it is now mandatory to disclose a device’s IMEI number before the device is sold anywhere in India. Telecom network operators have access to the list of government-approved IMEI numbers. At the point of sale, a device’s IMEI number can be matched against the CEIR database to detect if the phone might be lost or stolen. The database will help telecom service providers to block stolen phones from entering their network.