Major U.S. Carriers Agree to Develop Centralized Database to Track Stolen Mobile Phones

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001


    The Wall Street Journal reports that the four major U.S. wireless carriers have reached an agreement with the Federal Communications Commission to work toward a centralized database to track and disable stolen mobile phones.
    The report cites a study from the New York Police Department showing that electronics are now the most commonly stolen type of property, with mobile phones accounting for over 80% of thefts in that category.

    According to the plan, the major carriers will develop individual databases within six months, integrating them over the following 12 months. Smaller carriers will also join the database after that point. The database will also be interoperable with similar efforts in other countries to allow for international tracking of stolen phones, although many countries have yet to develop such databases.

    As noted by ifoAppleStore, Apple has typically taken a hands-off approach when it comes to stolen phones, with Genius Bar staff routinely offering free warranty replacements in exchange for stolen phones. Apple's policies reportedly stem from a lack of centralized tracking of stolen devices and a desire to not become involved in potential confrontations over the stolen merchandise, but an official database supported by the carriers could help Apple become more proactive about handling stolen iPhones.

    Article Link: Major U.S. Carriers Agree to Develop Centralized Database to Track Stolen Mobile Phones
  2. macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2011
    Champaign, IL
    Although I have never lost my phone, I have a handful of friends who would gladly get back their 2, or 3, or...10 lost phones :)
  3. macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2008
    About time. I wonder if they can retroactively find my stolen iPad.
  4. macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    Now that the US Carriers have got on board with this concept I'd like to see Apple demonstrate why their activation procedure can actually be good for consumers, instead of bad.

    Every iPhone needs to be activated with Apple before it will function.

    At the time of activation, they could check whether or not the phone is on a blacklist (preferably the CEIR/IMEIdb) and refuse to activate a device that has been reported lost or stolen.

    They certainly have the technical capability to do this, but whether they will or not is another matter.

    There are ways to get around an IMEI block (like "changing" the IMEI on the device, using it as a Wi-Fi only device etc.), but this would add another layer to the mix.



    If the IMEI of the iPad was added to the database, it would no longer function on the US Carriers signed up to use the database.
  5. macrumors 65816

    Dec 13, 2009
    this is only good news, only thieves or people complicit in stolen phones would oppose this.
  6. macrumors 65816

    Jun 20, 2009
    Lincoln, UK
    Every step taken towards making a stolen phone less usable makes stealing them less profitable, and so reduces crime. Good news.
  7. macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2010
    Hasn't the UK had this for years? I think a lot of 'blocked' phones end up getting exported.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Dec 25, 2007
    Who wants to be the conspiracy theorist that thinks they are compiling this database so it is easier to track us?
  9. macrumors 65816

    Dec 13, 2009
    no the database would stop your ipad working with any network, it is most useful for phones and goes on the methodology that if a thief knows that a phone they steal will not be able to be used on any network then it is pointless them stealing it as they 1, cannot use it themselves or 2, they can't sell it because a buyer would check that the product works before buying.
  10. macrumors 68000


    Sep 13, 2011
    The GSMA also have this and all members have access, however it only works for GSM phones.

    This new system will work with any wireless technology. Since the GSMA refused to include CDMA carriers into their system, they really forced a break with their system.
  11. macrumors regular

    Jan 20, 2009
    until thieves mask the phone's IMEI during activation and we're back to where we are now

    meanwhile there is a centralized tracking database built in the name of freedom.... :eek:
  12. macrumors 65816

    Dec 13, 2009
    it can't be used to track people, the database only contains the IMEIs of stolen phones, the IMEI is logged by the network at every mast site already now today (that's how it works) what this does is check the IMEI against the stole list and if it matches then no mobile service will be given, effectively making the mobile phone useless.
  13. macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    unless you dropped $200-300 on ebay or CL in which case you would be a victim. :(
  14. macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    This is the same argument as the firmware password on a Mac being circumvented by removing the hard drive. It just doesn't happen that often. Isolated cases here and there? Sure... but the fact is locking out the IMEI is going to be highly effective.
  15. macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    As above, there's nothing in the database that carriers, phone manufacturers or the government don't already have access to.

    Nor is there going to be anything in the database that wouldn't already exist in current systems - it's just going to be used in a more effective manner.
  16. macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2010
    No one has to be. It's the truth...
  17. Daveoc64, Apr 10, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012

    macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    Utter nonsense!

    Explain how telling your carrier the IMEI (which they already know) of a device you no longer have is going to help them (or the government) track you?

    People really have to think before they write.

    You'd give the police the licence plate number of your car if it was stolen wouldn't you?
  18. macrumors 65816

    Dec 13, 2009
    this is just plain incorrect on both counts, some very old phones can have their IMEIs changed but all new phones the IMEI is hard coded into the phones and cannot be changed, this list would stop any network connectivity on the stolen phones and not stop them from activating.

    if you are somehow (incorrectly) scared that this list can track you then you're too late a mobile phones IMEI is already given to every Mast you connect to but it is the SIM ID that would be used to track you which gives your phone it's mobile account with your network.
  19. macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2008
    While that's entirely possible, this is just another avenue to charge every customer some "cost recovery fee" associated with this mandate.

    The major carriers: Oh no! What a burden, it will take us only 6 months to develop and another to integrate. Surely this will cost us $100 billion dollars, of which we must recoup from our customers on a monthly basis.
  20. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 26, 2010
    I'm not satisfied with this. I'm not convinced stolen phones aren't leaving the country, and if this is the case, the telecoms and electronics industry needs to do something-this might lower the resale value (This I love...less incentive to steal) unless you realize you can ship it to Brazil illegally and make more money than reselling it here.
  21. macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    The best thing to do would be to ensure that the US system will integrate with the IMEI db.

    This is the de facto blacklist worldwide and the more countries that get on board the better!
  22. macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Australia has had this for many years now... And as a result stolen phones are virtually useless.

    In case you loose your phone and don't know the IMEI number it is transmitted with each call made and the telco can tell from their databases what your IMEI number is based on your mobile number. It's simple and it works... :D
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 24, 2008
    Most thieves aren't that smart. They're going to craigslist as soon as they get it.
  24. macrumors 68020


    Apr 15, 2004
    Washington DC
    Hopefully consumers will have access so they can check if a phone is stolen before purchasing.
  25. macrumors 65816


    Jul 11, 2008
    Cincinnati OH
    About one year too late for me. There's no reason (other than greed) they shouldn't have been doing this from the outset.

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