Over 1,300 cases of IMEI number cloning reported in 2009-12

Mobile phone cases

Over 1,300 cases of mobile phone identification number cloning have been reported between 2009-12 in the country, Parliament was informed today.

"The number of cases reported where the same IMEIs have been used in more than 100 cell phones during the last three years (2009, 2010, 2011) are 749 while 569 cases are reported during the current year (2012)," Minister of State for Communications and IT Milind Deora said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is a serial number that uniquely identifies a mobile phone.

To a query on whether import of unbranded mobile phones is posing security threat, Deora said, the Ministry of Commerce in October 2009 had prohibited import of mobile handsets without International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number or with all zeroes IMEI.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had also issued instructions to mobile operators that calls from handsets with a IMEI number which is not available in the latest updated IMEI database of GSMA, without IMEI or all zeroes IMEI should not be processed and must be rejected with effect from November 30, 2009, Deora said.

"There are instances where mobile phones without proper IMEI have been noticed. It is difficult for security agencies to legally trace a target with such phones when required," Deora said.

On whether there is any technology to identify mobile phones with same IMEI number, the Minister said, so far no online solution is known which can be deployed in the network to completely eliminate the use of duplicate and non-genuine IMEI handsets.

"However, the issue of use of non-genuine and duplicate IMEI in our mobile network has been acknowledged and a technical committee has been constituted to study and suggest the possible solutions to eliminate the use of non-genuine and duplicate IMEI," Deora added.

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