IT | Security

Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act Gains Momentum

By: Absolute Editorial Team | 11/13/2013

US Senator of New York Chuck Schumer has released new figures on mobile thefts in New York in an aim to push forward the Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act, re-introduced earlier this year. The Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act, originally introduced in 2012, would make tampering with the unique identification number of a stolen cell phone a Federal crime. According to the Senator, 75% of reported robberies in Rochester in 2013 involve the theft of a mobile phone and robberies overall were up by 14%.

Currently, one of the ways that thieves are bypassing the creation of the stolen phones databases (which will go online this month, but has made little difference in other countries) is through the simple alteration of a stolen phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number to reactivate the phone. The proposed legislation would impose a 5-year criminal penalty for the alteration of this number. The bill has the full support of CTIA, the Wireless Association, who have joined forces with Schumer and the FCC to implement the national database.

Senator Charles Schumer is quoted as saying:

"And so we made it a crime to change the vin number on the car, where any of the parts that were stolen we had a registry of those parts so they couldn't be used by a legitimate dealer. Car theft went way down. We want to do the same thing with cell phones."

Unfortunately, while this legislation is good at prosecuting criminals, we do not share in the Senator’s optimistic view that it will curb mobile theft. Instead, more of these stolen devices will be exported to other countries, which is already where most stolen mobiles end up. After all, it's much easier to transport a small mobile device than it is a whole car (even if it's stripped to parts); the analogy just doesn't hold up in this situation.

Although this law, as well as the legislation proposed earlier this month that would require proof of ownership for resale of devices, are positive steps, they don't address the pervasive and Global issue of the mobile theft epidemic.  It is our belief that mobile theft needs a comprehensive solution from new laws, technical solutions such as the kill switch, education, prevention, arrests, persecution and law enforcement assisted device recovery.

Currently, Computrace Mobile is the only solution in the marketplace that offers a hardware and software solution that can survive a hard reset, wipe or factory reset that is common before mobile devices are shipped abroad. Backed by the Absolute Investigations and Recovery Services team, we offer the industry's only service-based solution committed to tracking down stolen devices and working with local police departments.