The President of URTiP submitted to the Minister of Justice information on legal regulations regarding the pursuit by EU Member States of mobile handset theft and reprogramming IMEI numbers.
From 1 January 2005 mobile operators are obliged to block stolen handsets and to submit information identifying the stolen telephone handset to other operators in order to immediately block telecommunication calls or information transmission. These activities are being carried out by the operator within one working day of submitting by the subscriber a certified report of the handset theft, the identification number of the device, the proof of its purchase or other data identifying the owner of this device.
Before new provisions of the Telecommunications law came into force, mobile operators immediately blocked SIM cards (Subscriber Identity Module) after receiving the subscriber’s report of theft, thus preventing an unauthorized person from making calls at the expense of the harmed person. However, not all operators provided the service of blocking handsets via an IMEI number (International Mobile Equipment Identity). The blockade of an IMEI number assigned to an individual phone handset prevents the usage of the device with another SIM card.
The President Witold Graboś informed the Minister of Justice that on 4 January he began to control the execution of new obligations by mobile operators. In addition, during a special conference held on 13 January he presented information for the consumers on the applied procedures on reporting stolen handsets and their blocking by operators as well as advice on how to protect oneself against buying a stolen and reprogrammed mobile handset on the secondary market.
The introduction of the order to block IMEI numbers will contribute to a decrease in the number of stolen mobile handsets. According to the data published in the Polish press it is a real plague amounting to one million handsets lost every year. It should be remembered that a modern phone handset costs from a few hundred to a few thousand PLN and is an “attractive good” for a criminal.
On the basis of information available in the media, it is clear that in Poland we also deal with illegal business of “breaking” the IMEI number blockade. The President of URTiP pointed out that it is necessary to undertake intensive activities towards persons placing stolen phone handsets on the secondary market.
If currently existing provisions of the Polish Law are not sufficient to pursue effectively persons reprogramming IMEI numbers, the legislative changes are necessary. Having this in mind, the President Witold Graboś presented to the Minister of Justice short information gathered from other regulatory authorities in the EU concerning the detailed legal provisions regarding fight against the plague of mobile handset theft and the penalties for reprogramming IMEI numbers enabling to make use of stolen and blocked devices.
The President of URTiP declared his help in the implementation of legal solutions in order to secure the mobile subscribers’ rights in the most effective way.