The theft of smart devices is no longer only property damage for the victims, but now also exposes us to crimes related to personal information, such as identity fraud and phishing campaigns, claim experts in data protection. In an attempt to reduce this risk, as well as smartphone theft rates, governments in multiple countries have decided to implement a process to disable compromised devices and phone lines using IMEI code.
On average, large urban centers register about 2k smartphone thefts a month. In such a context, smartphone theft is sometimes a catalyst for other crimes to be presented using the victim’s information, such as kidnappings or financial fraud; there is the importance of stopping this practice.
This initiative would involve the participation of multiple government institutions, as well as smartphone manufacturers and mobile operators. In Mexico, for example, people will be able to register their IMEI before a government office to create a huge database of mobile phone users.
According to data protection experts, the purpose of establishing this gigantic database is to expedite the process of blocking or disabling a reported device; by generating alliances between the government and private companies, it seeks to eliminate any possibility that a stolen mobile device will be used not only to make calls, but to prevent it from being used to connect to a WiFi network or as a means of storage, to run applications, etc.
When this new policy is implemented, theft victims could call the appropriate government instance to begin blocking their devices; the intention is that the user can block the equipment even without having previously registered the IMEI, so it would be up to public organizations to contact the telephony service providers. Subsequently, mobile operators will verify the users’ identity, concluding the process to disable all the functions of a smartphone.
Data protection specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) believe that this measure, while reactive, can deliver acceptable results to strengthen the privacy of personal data in a context of insecurity typical of big cities.