You Will Soon be Able to Block Your Stolen Phones in Pakistan

Pakistan is yet again making efforts to develop and deploy a system to block Smartphones that are stolen or lost.

Last time a similar attempt was made in 2008/09 under the chairmanship of Dr. Yasin. However, it failed due the fact that the system back then used only IMEI numbers for blocking a phone. Since IMEI numbers can be changed easily (through software) the system didn’t work and it failed even before deployment.

This time law-enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, mobile phone companies and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority gathered again to figure out if its possible to develop a computer system to disable phones that are stolen or lost.

A local company has already been contracted for the purpose that’s soon going to deliver the solution to PTA.

Here’s how the new system for blocking lost/stolen phones will work:

  • PTA will maintain a list of allowed IMEIs (imported legally, PTA approved IMEIs, IMEIs paired with CNICs etc.) to be allowed to register with local networks.
  • All phone owners will be asked to register IMEI numbers with their SIM card (and ultimately a CNIC number, since SIMs are mapped with CNICs)
  • When a phone is stolen or lost, it will be put in blocked list
  • In case if IMEI is in blocked list or if IMEI isn’t matching the registered SIM card number, it won’t be allowed to connect with any network.

A statement was also issued regarding the new software used for this system:

Once the software is ready, with the insertion of SIM card, the said mobile phone’s IMEI number will be registered. In case of theft or loss, when the subscriber will block the SIM, the mobile phone will also be blocked automatically.

This is going to make phone stealing useless as stolen phones won’t be able to connect to any network and will ultimately result in a better situation relating to phone snatching and other related crimes.

No word yet on when the system is expected to be deployed.

 

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


      • So I can get a stolen phone, and change its IMEI number to match my old phone’s IMEI. Sim number remains same, CNIC remains same and IMEI also isn’t changed. Just the actual handset is changed, No other parameters will change.
        Back to square one again.

      • As mentioned by @ranajazibmasood:disqus, people can use old phones IMEI to be set on stolen phones and this procedure will flop.
        BTW, it will increase demand of old/dead phones by the thieves.

        @aamir7:disqus, Please advise PTA and all above mentioned agencies to not no waste money before audit of ProPK readers ; )

        • It has an easy fix; two fixes, in fact.

          First of all, number of IMEIs that can be registered to a CNIC should be limited to 5 as well. This way, anyone removing old mobiles and adding new ones rapidly will be on record and be instantly suspicious.

          Secondly, each IMEI in the database should also be associated with its own mobile make, model, and HW ID (carriers can easily see that info, and more) so that, for example, if you use a Nokia 1100 IMEI with an iPhone 7, it won’t work and automatically report you for flashing IMEIs (which is illegal afaik).

          These won’t prevent theft and snatching cent percent but they will work in most of the cases, which will still be a huge improvement.

            • I didn’t say it works 100% of the times, did I? Kindly re-read the end of that comment, if you bothered to read it at all before commenting.

              I know that model number can be changed. I’ve done it myself, more times than I can count. However, on iOS side you can’t change the model number, and on most “dumb phones” you can’t change the model number. You can’t change an iPhone 3GS to a 5S and go to iOS 10.2, you can’t change a Nokia 1100 to 1208, and you sure as $#!& can’t change an Android phone’s model to make it look like a Nokia 1100 or even an iPhone. My primary concern is snatchers using cheap, dumb phones’ IMEIs to make stolen smartphones legit.

              On Android, it’s possible to change the model number. It is, in fact, a cinch to do it. But if you were technologically competent, you’d know that your carrier can tell that your phone isn’t actually that model number. At the very least, it’ll raise issues if someone keeps changing model numbers again and again.

              At the end of the day, no solution is beyond failing. Even Apple’s notoriously-difficult-to-bypass iCloud lock can be bypassed, for a price. You’re welcome to Google it yourself, iPhone theft went down by 40% in San Francisco and 25% in NYC just because of iCloud lock. Just because a method CAN fail doesn’t mean it’ll fail completely, any progress at this point is welcomed.

  • yes a good idea but when people will understand things are not important then data, try some thing effective to recover it including snatchers.

  • Not practicle, overseas Pakistanis travelling to Pakistan will have to do this every time they come with a new phone, at the end it won’t be just a sms away.

  • A Great step towards the security. This shall save t he lives of the innocent people who become the resist at the time of snatching. Moreover I believe that this service will be effective in decreasing the crime. Its never too late. Appreciate the initiative taken by the local company.

  • Mobile snatchers can simply use cheap qmobile for connecting with network and stolen mobile can be used for other purposes. Still new solution will help in controlling mobile snatching in a way that no one will buy a phone which can’t be connected to a mobile network.

  • Dear Aamir, If you grab a story from a startup called ZAMIN, who claims to file FIR and block cell phone on the behalf of cell phone owner,then it will not work, as internally their homework is not complete, they claim they launch FIR’s and block cell phones, but Pakistani law dont permit third party these legal actions, rest if its 3rd company, then its different ball game

  • So this means most of our nationals will be forced to be on call for complaints that they bought a phone or got a gift from abroad & want that to be registered against there CNIC.

    Response: The system is down to due technical issues, Please call us back in 24 hrs……….. or Sorry your phone isn’t compatible as our system can’t do surveillance on it so please buy a phone which has a backdoor. Thank you!

  • So every time one changes phone he has to go through the whole process and most people use dual sim phones so they have to do it twice. Furthermore this way you cannot use your sim if your mobile is broken and you have to use a replacement mobile for few days.

  • What about the mobile gifts from abroad or we bring mobiles back to home, what will be procedure to get them work locally as they wouldn’t be registered with PTA, markets are full of smuggled mobile phone, the days will have gone for smugglers.

  • Is mai logon ka kya faeda hoa, sewae iske k onka fon koi use nahi kr sakta. Fon chin jane se lost to recover nahi ho ra. Fon tb bhi chinta rahe ga or chena hoa fon market mai sell hota rahe ga, kyon k mobile shop wale os fon ko khariden ge or oske parts use karen ge.
    matlab hum sb fon buy karte rahen or choron ko dete rahen, or har naya fon register krwate rahen…
    Karachi mai sb se bara masla fon k chin jane ka hy, jis se tamam shehri pareshan hen. jis mai Jan o Maal dono ka khatra hota hy.
    Meri suggestion or kehne ka matlab sirf ye hy k “SHER (LION) AGAR ABADI MAI AJAE TO LOGON KO PINJRE MAI NA BND KARO, BALKE KCH AESA KARO JIS SE SHER ABADI MAI NA AA SAKE”

  • and what they are going to do with the geeks sitting in hafeez center who disable all the blockings :S

  • 1) Best way is to bring the phone and box to the get the new sim. this way the Phone IMEI will match with the BOX IMEI and thn it will be register.

    2) Bring just the phone the the carrier , the service provider check online IMEI code to find whther this phone IMEI code is accurate.

  • Useless system of blocking. It won’t stop or decrease snatching as theft just want money less or more and every snatched phone can give them few bucks.
    This system will stop used mobile sale work and billion of people will effect as most of doing used mobile sale/purchase work. There is very easy way for stop snatching but not know why so called genius planner not working on it.

    When a mobile power on with sim it IMEI recorded in system of mobile operator and other info too recorded and mobile operator know where mobile is currently being used (As they intro city based package) so when a snatching report then instead of blocking just trace mobile location and also check all new sim inserted in mobile and as all sim is BVS so snatcher can catch easily and every shop owner who buy used mobiles also collect seller CNIC copy so it is very easy to trace snatcher. If you using a mobile which stolen but you not know and original owner won’t block it but mobile operator know all past user who has used your mobile. All of these work Police/FIA need to work hard to trace snatcher and catch them and they not want to work hard so implementing useless automatic system of blocking which just increase headache of all.

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