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International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI)

  Jun 08, 2020

International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI)

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is asking handset makers who are manufacturing in India to provide the unique identification numbers of their devices to the government within the next two months, citing security imperatives.

Govt has asked device makers to share IMEI numbers within two months. The move is likely to help curb increasing mobile crimes in the country.

What is an IMEI?

Way forward

Impact

The DoT has been working on this Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR), a database of IMEIs, for the past couple of years but now wants all handset players to submit the numbers as well.

What is Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR)?

A Central Equipment Identity Register is a database of the IMEI numbers of blacklisted handsets. If a device's ESN or IMEI number is listed on a CEIR, it is not supposed to work on member service providers' networks; only paying members may access the database.

A common usage of a CEIR is with stolen mobile devices. Once a user reports to their operator about the theft, the mobile devices' IMEI number should be entered into the CEIR, supposedly making the device unusable in any network (although this does not always work). A key reason this sometimes does not work, is that while many operators from many countries contribute IMEIs to the CEIR, each also having a unique profile that determines which operators' blocks will be included on the CEIR updates received by each operator.