People will be now able to block and track their lost or stolen mobile phones across India via the Sanchar Saathi portal launched by the Department of Telecom on Tuesday.
Union telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that through Sanchar Saathi Portal, people will be able to block, track and check the genuineness of a used device before buying them.
“First leg of Sanchar Saathi portal is CEIR (Central Equipment Identity Register). If you lose your mobile phone, then you can visit this portal. There will be some identity verification, requirement of undertaking and immediately after this the portal will interact with law enforcement agencies and telecom service providers and block your lost mobile phone,” Vaishnaw said.
He said that Prime Minister has a clear vision that a lot of attention needs to be paid to user safety and the facilities under the Sanchar Saathi portal are aligned to his vision.
When asked about measures that the government is taking to check fraud through calls on WhatsApp, the minister said that Meta owned app has agreed to deactivate services linked to any mobile phone number engaged in fraudulent activities.
“We have actively engaged with WhatsApp and they have agreed that customer safety is most important. All the OTT platforms are actively cooperating to deregister the users which have been detected as fraud users,” Vaishnaw said.
He said that 36 lakh mobile connections have been disconnected for fraud and simultaneously their WhatsApp account has been blocked.
The minister said that there is Know Your Mobile facility Sanchar Saathi which help users verify the genuineness of second-hand mobile phone before buying them.
“We feel confident that at least with these reforms, at least the rising trends in cyber frauds will be seriously controlled and we will be able to bring them down,” Vaishnaw said.
He said that there is TAFCOP facility on Sanchar Saathi to help people check if there are other mobile numbers working in their name without their permission or knowledge.
The Sanchar Saathi facilities have been developed by C-DoT. The technology development arm under the Department of Telecom has been able to add feature to check use of cloned mobile phones across all telecom networks.
The government has made it mandatory to disclose IMEI— a 15-digit unique numeric identifier of mobile devices before their sale in India.
The mobile networks will have access to the list of approved IMEI numbers which will check the entry of any unauthorised mobile phones on their network.
Telecom operators and CEIR system will have visibility into IMEI number of the device and mobile number linked to it and the information is being used in some states to track your lost or stolen mobiles through CEIR.
One of the common practices is that miscreants after stealing mobile phone change IMEI number of the device which prevents tracking and blocking of such handsets.
The CEIR will be able to block any cloned mobile phones on the network with the help of various databases.
C-DOT has been running the pilot of the technology in some of the telecom circles including Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and North East. Recently, Karnataka Police recovered and handed over 2,500 lost mobile phones to their owners using the CEIR system. Apple already has a system to track lost mobile phones with the help of Apple id but major issues have been around Android mobile phones.
With the new system in place, it will be futile to use stolen mobile phones. The system developed under Sanchar Saathi can also help in curbing the smuggling of phones.