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


JAT

macrumors 603
Dec 31, 2001
6,451
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Mpls, MN
If your partner has a cellphone, there's a real good chance you can get access to his/her account information, to do such a thing. Just wait and see how often this comes up in divorce battles or bad breakups!
If it's that bad, you probably want to close and replace such things, anyway. Utility accounts, phone, cable, online accounts.
 

LimeiBook86

macrumors 604
May 4, 2002
7,982
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Go Vegan
Yes please!!

With the technology in these devices, especially GPS & internet connectivity, it makes sense to be able to track them and disable them. My original 4GB iPhone was stolen, AT&T would not help. The mobile device ID number was given to AT&T but they would not disable it, they claimed they couldn't.

This is definitely a step in the right direction. Give those thieves a brick wall to hit when they try to use a stolen cell phone. :D
 

Amazing Iceman

macrumors 68040
Nov 8, 2008
3,830
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About time someone thought of, and is pushing for it to happen.

The problem is that lots of stolen phones are taken out of the country to avoid being tracked, and to be able to make more money.
 

Derpage

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Mar 7, 2012
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Ah, you don't have a clue. Only bashing
so sensitive. you need to relax. it's the internet.

And I can't help it if you can't surmise that my comment was basically saying "The feds will use the premise of terrorism to obtain the lists of phones and their users info to do with whatever they wish"
 

Oletros

macrumors 603
Jul 27, 2009
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And I can't help it if you can't surmise that my comment was basically saying "The feds will use the premise of terrorism to obtain the lists of phones and their users info to do with whatever they wish"
Thing that they can do NOW. It has nothing to do with a lost phones registry.

So, I repeat, how Feds can abuse this registry?
 

Derpage

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Thing that they can do NOW. It has nothing to do with a lost phones registry.

So, I repeat, how Feds can abuse this registry?
IN THE SAME WAY. OMG YOU CAN DO THAT? YOU CAN ABUSE ONE SYSTEM LIKE YOU ABUSE ANY OTHER SYSTEM? THAT'S POSSIBLE????
God, stop arguing for the sake of arguing. It can be abused under the same premise that current phone registries are abused. IT'S JUST ANOTHER SOURCE FOR ABUSE.
 

Daveoc64

macrumors 601
Jan 16, 2008
4,057
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Bristol, UK
So at any time they could track a non-stolen phone?
Yes, but not because of this.

The database will only contain the IMEI of devices that have been reported stolen.

If your phone isn't stolen/lost, then it's not in the database.

That doesn't mean that your carrier can't track you anyway, they pretty much have to do that in order to provide you with service.

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IN THE SAME WAY. OMG YOU CAN DO THAT? YOU CAN ABUSE ONE SYSTEM LIKE YOU ABUSE ANY OTHER SYSTEM? THAT'S POSSIBLE????
God, stop arguing for the sake of arguing. It can be abused under the same premise that current phone registries are abused. IT'S JUST ANOTHER SOURCE FOR ABUSE.
How is it?

You keep ignoring the key point:

The database only contains IMEIs of stolen devices

The device that you have in your pocket right now isn't going to be in the database unless it's stolen.

i.e. they cannot ever track you using this database

I'd be very happy for the authorities to track down whoever stole my phone.

In the event that the phone is recovered, it would be removed from the database by contacting your carrier (if they didn't remove it, then it wouldn't work!).

In that event, your phone is no longer on the database, so you can put your tinfoil hat back in the cupboard.

As has been said repeatedly, the carriers and phone manufacturers already have the IMEIs of the devices people are using for obvious reasons. All that's new here is that someone's creating a database that says "these devices have been reported lost or stolen" - nothing more, nothing less. There's nothing in this database that cannot be found in a more convenient place by the carriers or the government. What do you think is going to happen?

"You had an iPhone 4S stolen last week - off to Guantanamo bay"
 
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Derpage

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Yes, but not because of this.

The database will only contain the IMEI of devices that have been reported stolen.

If your phone isn't stolen/lost, then it's not in the database.

That doesn't mean that your carrier can't track you anyway, they pretty much have to do that in order to provide you with service.

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How is it?

You keep ignoring the key point:

The database only contains IMEIs of stolen devices

The device that you have in your pocket right now isn't going to be in the database unless it's stolen.

i.e. they cannot ever track you using this database

I'd be very happy for the authorities to track down whoever stole my phone.

In the event that the phone is recovered, it would be removed from the database by contacting your carrier (if they didn't remove it, then it wouldn't work!).

In that event, your phone is no longer on the database, so you can put your tinfoil hat back in the cupboard.

As has been said repeatedly, the carriers and phone manufacturers already have the IMEIs of the devices people are using for obvious reasons. All that's new here is that someone's creating a database that says "these devices have been reported lost or stolen" - nothing more, nothing less. There's nothing in this database that cannot be found in a more convenient place by the carriers or the government. What do you think is going to happen?

"You had an iPhone 4S stolen last week - off to Guantanamo bay"
So you have a way for phones to be shut off in mass. Say activists are using mobile devices to get people to show up in one place. Those activists phones are reported stolen by some crazy coincidence. Phones are all deactivated around time of rally, protest or whatever. Kinda like how they do it now, but without needing to shut off towers.
 

Oletros

macrumors 603
Jul 27, 2009
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So you have a way for phones to be shut off in mass. Say activists are using mobile devices to get people to show up in one place. Those activists phones are reported stolen by some crazy coincidence. Phones are all deactivated around time of rally, protest or whatever. Kinda like how they do it now, but without needing to shut off towers.
My God, they can do that withouth any new registry.

Really, do you understand what are we talking about or you're only raging about how bads are Feds?
 

Daveoc64

macrumors 601
Jan 16, 2008
4,057
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Bristol, UK
So you have a way for phones to be shut off in mass. Say activists are using mobile devices to get people to show up in one place. Those activists phones are reported stolen by some crazy coincidence. Phones are all deactivated around time of rally, protest or whatever. Kinda like how they do it now, but without needing to shut off towers.
The problem with that is that it creates a trail of evidence that would be undesirable for the authorities. Someone would have to call the carrier and request the block. They'd need to know a lot of detail about the customer in order to do that. It could also be reversed by the device's owner in a matter of minutes.

If the police or other authority decided to do that, then that would leave a clear trail pointing back to them.

It's much easier to simply disable the network(s) in a specific area to do what you're describing. There's no way for people to really tell that it's happened (it could just be blamed on a "network fault").

Why sabotage someone's car engine when you can just hide the keys?
 

Derpage

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The problem with that is that it creates a trail of evidence that would be undesirable for the authorities. Someone would have to call the carrier and request the block. They'd need to know a lot of detail about the customer in order to do that. It could also be reversed by the device's owner in a matter of minutes.

If the police or other authority decided to do that, then that would leave a clear trail pointing back to them.

It's much easier to simply disable the network(s) in a specific area to do what you're describing. There's no way for people to really tell that it's happened (it could just be blamed on a "network fault").

Why sabotage someone's car engine when you can just hide the keys?
Because it's a more direct and targeted approach. You still need a court order to shut down towers at the moment.
 

8CoreWhore

macrumors 68020
Jan 17, 2008
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Big D
So what the heck took so long? Unforgivable. And Apple made it worse by guaranteeing to legitimize stolen phones. :mad:
 

Daveoc64

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Jan 16, 2008
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Because it's a more direct and targeted approach. You still need a court order to shut down towers at the moment.
But you don't need a court order to phone up a customer's carrier, impersonate them and report their phone stolen?

You could do far more effective things if you're prepared to be that illegal.

Why not just phone the carrier and cancel the contract instantly? It would be a lot harder for a customer to reverse that in a short period of time.
 

TonyC28

macrumors 68000
Aug 15, 2009
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This is an excellent idea. I was just talking with some coworkers about this a couple months ago and wondering why they didn't already do it. I also wonder if it can be applied to a phone that was lost/stolen before this database is started. I shipped a phone to someone who bought it on eBay and they claimed to have never gotten it. I would love to be able to get it deactivated now.
 

Daveoc64

macrumors 601
Jan 16, 2008
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Bristol, UK
This is an excellent idea. I was just talking with some coworkers about this a couple months ago and wondering why they didn't already do it. I also wonder if it can be applied to a phone that was lost/stolen before this database is started. I shipped a phone to someone who bought it on eBay and they claimed to have never gotten it. I would love to be able to get it deactivated now.
It's possible that they'll let you do that, but I don't expect that they'll automatically do it.

They can't be sure what has happened to devices that were reported lost/stolen in the past. It might be that the owner recovered their device and has been using it since.
 

TonyC28

macrumors 68000
Aug 15, 2009
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It's possible that they'll let you do that, but I don't expect that they'll automatically do it.

They can't be sure what has happened to devices that were reported lost/stolen in the past. It might be that the owner recovered their device and has been using it since.
Well yea but they complained to eBay and ended up getting their money back. So, as far as the law goes they "stole" it...if they do in fact have it.
 

i\/i

macrumors newbie
Sep 30, 2011
6
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Carries should also lock down stolen phones.

Blocking network access to stolen phones is an easy, common sense first step. Carriers should also be required to remotely lock down these devices and require ownership verification for future use.

Nobody has any right to use a stolen phone, no matter how they obtained it, and purchasing stolen items is also illegal. The phone carriers have been profiting off of service plans and replacement sales of stolen phones for too long. The carriers must deny service to any stolen device.

Anyone purchasing a used phone should be able to check the database to confirm the phone isn't stolen. An improvement to system would involve a database of IMEI's for verified phones that are for sale. This could provide phone buyers a way to confirm that the original owner is selling the phone, rather than relying on whether the phone has been reported stolen yet.

Ultimately the carriers and police should track and seize these stolen phones whenever possible. The government and phone companies already have the ability to track all smart phones if they need to.

To assume otherwise and believe that this would represent a new threat to your privacy is naive.

If you don't want to be tracked, don't buy a gps phone.
 

Derpage

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But you don't need a court order to phone up a customer's carrier, impersonate them and report their phone stolen?

You could do far more effective things if you're prepared to be that illegal.

Why not just phone the carrier and cancel the contract instantly? It would be a lot harder for a customer to reverse that in a short period of time.
Why would you need to do that if you have access to the list or can add numbers to the list without the carriers even knowing? It seems like the system will allow local police to access and amend the list to their liking, and not vice versa with the carriers in charge of who gets shut down.
 

Daveoc64

macrumors 601
Jan 16, 2008
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Bristol, UK
Why would you need to do that if you have access to the list or can add numbers to the list without the carriers even knowing? It seems like the system will allow local police to access and amend the list to their liking, and not vice versa with the carriers in charge of who gets shut down.
The database would not allow that to happen. It would require a link back to a carrier, so that the carrier could remove a device from the database if it was recovered and the customer requested that the device be removed from the database.

When a device is reported lost or stolen, it's not always going to be gone forever. It might be that the customer finds it at the back of their sofa an hour after reporting it lost! The system must be flexible enough to deal with that.

Even if the police could access the list, they'd need to know the customer's IMEI - obtaining that would require just as much legal work as going through a legitimate channel to block the customer's device/service. If they did block the device in this manner, the customer could have the block removed in just a few minutes with a single call to their carrier. Other methods of disabling the service would be longer lasting and much simpler to implement.