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India Hanging Up On 25 Million Cell Phones 103

jvillain writes "India is about to pull the plug on 25 million cell phones in the name of fighting terrorism and fraud. 'The ban by India's Department of Telecommunications has been unfolding gradually since Oct. 6, 2008, six weeks before the attacks in Mumbai killed 173 people and wounded 308. A memo then directed service providers to cut off cellphone users whose devices didn't have a real IMEI — or unique identity number — in the interests of 'national security.' Since then, the move has picked up steam as a way to circumvent terrorists using black market, unregistered cellphones. The Mumbai attackers kept in touch with each other via cellphones and used GPS to pinpoint their attacks, which started Nov. 26, 2008, and went on for three days. The telecommunications department has issued warnings and deadlines through 2009 but has announced this one is for real, telling operators to block cellphones without valid IMEI numbers. Previously, it warned companies to stop importing them and customers to stop buying them.'"
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India Hanging Up On 25 Million Cell Phones

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  • Cloned phones (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @07:16PM (#30276760)
    So, does this just mean that if you want to have an untrackable phone in India, instead of buying a phone without a plan you can just go out and buy a cloned phone instead? I mean, seems to me the only thing better than not being tracked by the government for a criminal/terrorist is to have the government waste time tracking some poor innocent schlub they think is you.
  • RE: Sat Phones (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tommyatomic ( 924744 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @07:24PM (#30276876)

    Yes but there is already infrastructure in place to combat CC fraud. Granted in India its not a good or reliable system but its a system none the less. And sat phones can be tracked whereas IMEI-less cell phones are not especially trackable.

    Basically they are just forcing all their cellular networks to refuse connection to phones lacking IMEI numbers. This is hardly an international crisis. It just means that people are going to have to pay for their phone calls or pay to call in their bomb threats. No more free rides.

  • Re:Sat Phones (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 30, 2009 @07:29PM (#30276936)

    Well they can. But it would not be possible for them to provide these satellite phones for all the people in and out of India to communicate with each other.

    With these China made phones without an IMEI, terrorists have their jobs made easy for them. Besides it is not easy to rent satellite phones in India.

  • Re:Yeah, great idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joeflies ( 529536 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @07:33PM (#30277002)
    but even if it doesn't stop terrorism, turning off invalid phones seems to be something that any smart business should be doing, no?
  • Re:Yeah, great idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Scorpions4Ever ( 704686 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @08:11PM (#30277464)
    This happened in Pakistan, where a Chinese manufacturer used the same IMEI number on thousands of cell phones of a particularly cheap model (The model was cloned from a Nokia phone and cloned its IMEI # as well). One day in July 2008, one customer had his cellphone stolen and reported it to Pakistan Telcom Authority, who promptly banned that device using its IMEI number. Result: Mayhem for other owners who owned the same model of phone, as they were all banned at the same time. There were unhappy customers storming dozens of mobile phone stores and sales of Chinese-made phones came to a complete stop for a few days. An archive of the mayhem that ensued is still saved here: http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article-southasia.asp?parentid=94421 [ucla.edu]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 30, 2009 @08:51PM (#30277826)

    If you have a gun you can take someone's phone. All you need is to memorize a few phone numbers for home base and to pick a rich tourist who looks like they have money to steal a phone from.

    Some of the mumbai terrorists stole the hostage's phones and used them. Who's going to come after them for long distance overages in the afterlife when they've gunned down people already.

    If you need a bunch of phones at once you can bribe someone in a cell stand or cell shop. In a nation of that many people it is tough to say there isn't many *someones* willing to make a deal if the price is right. You can just say you are a persecuted religious sect. Failing that you can use the barrel of a gun as a negotiating tactic.

  • This just in.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ghostdoc ( 1235612 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @08:56PM (#30277878)

    The state of Gelder, in a move to combat terrorism, has banned shoes.

    A spokesman for the government said 'We know from two recent terrorist attacks that the terrorists used shoes to transport themselves between attack targets. Consequently we are removing this method of transport from the terrorist's arsenal'.

    In a separate statement, ministers said they were considering the effectiveness of a ban on long trousers used by terrorists to conceal their knees.

  • Re:Cloned phones (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moose_hp ( 179683 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:06PM (#30277974) Homepage
    And that's why I'm going to try to put someone else CURP (since supposedly you can send the info via text message without any other confirmation with Telcel)... Felipe Calderon's CURP is pretty easy to calculate with using his wikipedia entry, but other not-so-known PAN politicians would work.

    If I stop posting on slashdot, that means the PGR got me.
  • Re:Sat Phones (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:36PM (#30278180)
    And look at how great that has worked out with real crime (robbery, murder, etc) when you do the same thing with another medium (guns). The "two extra crimes" thing is unimportant, do you realize how trivially easy it is for someone to steal an identity? Yeah, ok, if you spend $30,000 they are going to notice, but lets say a $100 extra charge at Wal-Mart? They won't know. As for fake IDs, they don't need to be foolproof to fool a store clerk. About the only place where IDs get checked throughput is at a traffic stop, at the airport (or at least security theater makes it look like they are) and if you are buying alcohol.
  • Re:Yeah, great idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:40PM (#30278196)
    Its my phone, whether I bought the cheap Nokla phone from China, the iPhone knock-off from some guy in Russia, or any other phone, I should be able to use it if I pay for my service.

    Whats next? My ISP deciding not to allow me to connect to the internet because I'm using a different OS and network card?
  • Re:Sat Phones (Score:3, Interesting)

    by calmofthestorm ( 1344385 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @03:23AM (#30280196)

    Precisely. This is intended for surveillance and squelching dissent, not for fighting "terrorism".

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser