The government has made IMEI number registration of all mobile phones mandatory before they can be sold from January 1, 2023. Representative photo/AFP

Black marketing, phone theft and counterfeiting are rampant in India, and this has brought the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number into the limelight. Mobile phone manufacturers are now required to register a 15-digit number unique to each handset with the government. Even IMEI numbers of imported phones need to be registered.

What is an IMEI number?

The IMEI number is used to identify a mobile device on the network – each phone has its own number. This can be done when the user makes a phone call or uses the Internet on it.

This number indicates where the handset was manufactured and its model number. It also shows the location of the cell phone.

The number helps to identify the manufacturer of the phone and to find out if it has ever been stolen. A stolen or lost device can be tracked using this number, even if the SIM card has been removed. These numbers can also help blacklist devices, which will stop them from functioning.

Dual SIM mobile phones have two IMEI numbers, one for each SIM card.

What do the new rules say?

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has made it mandatory for all mobile manufacturers to register the IMEI number for devices manufactured in India. From January 1, 2023, every phone will have to be registered on the Indian Counterfeit Device Restriction (ICDR) portal.

“The manufacturer must register the International Mobile Equipment Identification Number of every mobile phone manufactured in India with the Government of India Counterfeit Devices Counterfeit Portal of the Department of Telecommunications before the first sale of the mobile phone,” the government said in a statement. . The notice has been issued under the Prevention of Forgery of Mobile Equipment Identification Number (Amendment) Regulations 2022.

Similar rules apply to mobile phones imported into India for sale, testing or any other purpose. Registration must be done before the phone is imported into the country. This applies to all imported phones, including Samsung and Apple smartphones.

The ICDR system has been operational since January 28, 2020 and can be accessed through the web portal for registration and generation of IMEI certificates free of charge.

Why has the government introduced mandatory registration of mobile phone IMEI numbers

The new rules also apply to imported phones such as Apple. Representative image/PTI

Why does the Center need to record IMEI numbers?

The new rules are intended to stop the rise in cases of cell phone cloning and theft. India has a Central Register of Equipment Identifierswhich classifies devices based on IMEI status into three lists – white, gray and black, according to a report in the Indian Express.

The whitelist includes mobile phones that are allowed to be used, while the blacklist includes the IMEI numbers of devices that have been stolen, lost, or have been denied access to the network. The gray list contains operational numbers that are under control.

What happens if the IMEI is spoofed?

In 2017, the Union Government did spoofing IMEI numbers a penal charge in India which can attract imprisonment for up to three years. “It shall be unlawful for a person, other than the manufacturer, to intentionally remove, destroy, alter or alter the unique hardware identification number of a mobile device,” the Commerce Department said in a statement.

“Mobile phone theft and cloning has become a serious problem. Theft of mobile phones is not only a financial loss, but also a threat to the personal life of citizens, as well as national security. Counterfeit mobile phones in the market is another problem for DoT. A significant number of fake mobile phones are active in our mobile networks with fake IMEI numbers,” a memorandum from the DoT office said then.

Have there been any incidents of IMEI-related crimes?

In June 2020, the Meerut police recovered more than 13,000 Vivo phones with the same IMEI number. There is a rampant rise in IMEI related fraud where phones are sold with fake or duplicate numbers.

A phone that does not have an IMEI number is a fake. So it’s important to check this before buying a new device.

How to check IMEI number?

To check the IMEI number, dial *#06# from your phone and it will appear on the screen. The box your phone comes in also has a number.

The About Phone tab on an Android phone contains its information. On iPhone, you’ll find it in Settings under About.

With the help of agencies