Mobile devices will be harder to steal in Canada, as regulator tightens the rope around device verification

November 9, 2012
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stolen phone

Canada is about to become an even safer place to live in very soon. The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, an industry group of mobile operators, has plans to inhibit the theft of mobile devices by tightening checks during their reactivation on carriers’ wireless networks.

The carriers will be required to make drastic changes in their device verification policies by blacklisting stolen devices. By fall 2013, a mobile device will be activated only if it passes the IMEI number verification – in order to be activated on the network, the device’s IMEI must not not appear in the stolen list for both Canada and  international markets. This process aims to cover almost all the wireless devices functioning on 3G/4G LTE, both smartphone and tablets (excluding the Wi-Fi only models,) as they are most likely to be stolen.

After a lot of pressure from political authorities and the police department, this comes as a fresh change to Canadians who were increasingly becoming victims to what is now known as ‘iCrime’. This central initiative was forced after a strong warning from the Canadian Radio television and Telecommunications Commission to the carriers. The telecom regulator was inspired by a similar initiative from U.S. carriers that have created their own blacklist to counter such thefts.

However, this will definitely lighten the pockets of mobile operators. It is estimated that it will cost around $20 million to build a central registry. The CWTA also plans to increase consumer awareness around data protection through various public surveys, dedicated campaigns and websites. The CWTA’s logic that this will reduce the incentive to steal. However, countries like the UK and Australia, which have similar central registries in place, still record mobile device thefts. There are initiatives being mulled to illegalize the tampering of IMEI numbers to further counter thefts.

It seems that the mobile devices are becoming a priced possession and everyone wants to have one. So, Canadians out there, are you listening? You can be relaxed that the government is vigilant, but don’t be careless! Guard your lovely Android devices, as all the latest launches are even more lucrative to be stolen. So watch your back!

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