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Canadian Carriers Launch National Stolen Cellphone Blacklist Program [u]

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The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), which represents a consortium of wireless carriers in Canada such as Rogers, Telus and Bell, EastLink, Videotron, SaskTel and MTS, has finally launched their national blacklist program to combat stolen cellphone theft. The program was first announced last fall, a move applauded by the CRTC.

Starting today, the authorization of any GSM, HSPA, HSPA+ or LTE wireless device on participating Canadian carrier networks will include IMEI verification to ensure it has not been reported lost or stolen, as of Sept. 30, 2013. The blacklist also includes devices reported lost or stolen by US carriers which are part of the GSMA IMEI Database.

“Canadians are among the world’s fastest adopters and heaviest users of sophisticated smartphones,” said CWTA President & CEO Bernard Lord. “Not only will this national blacklist help to make their smartphones a less valuable target for criminals, but the industry has also taken steps to help Canadian consumersidentify if a pre-owned device has previously been reported as lost or stolen.”

Canadians can check if their devices have been stolen by going to ProtectYourData.ca, as a new tool now allows users to enter in their IMEI to find out if their present device has been blacklisted. If the device has been blacklisted, it won’t work on any participating Canadian network. The CWTA calls this tool “the first of its kind in the world that utilizes the GSMA IMEI Database”.

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CACP President Chief Constable Jim Chu, in the press release supports this move:

“On behalf of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), I would like to commend the CWTA and its members for their rapid response to implement thismuch needed public safety tool,”

“Less than a year ago, we identified to the CWTA the seriousness of cellphone theft and the associated violent crime which was of growing concern to law enforcement and communities throughout Canada. This important action by theindustry will have a direct impact on reducing this gratuitous crime.”

iOS 7 features a new security feature called Activation Lock which requires lost or stolen iOS devices to require a user’s Apple ID password to activate if restored.

How to find out the IMEI on your iPhone? Go to Settings > General > About > IMEI

Essentially, if you’re buying a used phone, it would be prudent to enter in the device’s IMEI over at ProtectYourData.ca to ensure the device you’re buying can be activated and not blacklisted as lost or stolen.

This new blacklisted IMEI program is a great idea considering the iPhone has become a common target for thieves.

Update: Telus has sent the following statement regarding this new program:

As you know smartphone theft has emerged as a real problem in Canada over the last few years. You may be aware that TELUS has been a part of a national coalition of carriers working together against smartphone theft with this new IMEI blacklist database. In fact, TELUS has been taking strong action against handset theft since well before it became a public issue – we have been keeping a log of devices stolen from TELUS and sharing that information with other carriers; we have also refused to reactivate any device reported as stolen.

This action and continuing leadership on industry issues is just one example of how we put our customers first. We take issues like smartphone theft to heart; and we’ve been pressing the industry as a whole to get involved – and today we’re excited to be sharing this news from CWTA.

Update 2: SaskTel has provided more details on its participation in this program, stating it has created its own system to monitor internal black-listed IMEIs, which will connect to the national IMEI database:

SaskTel has deployed an Equipment Identity Register (EIR) on its network to keep its own internal list of black-listed IMEIs. The EIR will connect to the IMEI database to share the latest list of black-listed devices with other carriers. The IMEI database takes black-list data from all Canadian and U.S. carriers that subscribe to the GSMA and compiles into one national black-list registry. When the SaskTel EIR downloads the latest black-list, all devices reported as lost or stolen by other carriers up to the previous day would also be capable of being blocked on the SaskTel network.

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  • Candy Curl

    Interesting. When I got my unlocked 5s and updated the sim online through Bell, after inputting my IMEI it said it didn’t recognize the phone (I guess due to it being unlocked), so I just didn’t input the IMEI. Phone works great. Wonder if this will change….or if unlocked phones would be exempt from this?

  • K3

    So when a customer takes advantage of services like the new spectacular roaming

    offers from Rogers but there phone is stolen on vacation what would be the options?

  • Chrome262

    Apple would have those numbers and if they were part of this then yes, it would work. So, I guess yes those of us with unlocked phones not from the carriers can’t benefit from this, unless apple reports to them.

  • Chrome262

    Nothing really, other then report it stolen, and then it would end up on the list. Then they carriers that are part of the program will not activate it. But if its unlocked and they go with a small carrier thats not part of this, they can use it.

  • K3

    It’s too bad it’s not possible for a global black list or that a manufacturer like Apple themselves couldn’t someway log this information.

  • iNathan16

    Even if you don’t put the IMEI, the carrier will know it as soon as you connect to the network so if someone stole it, they will be able to put it on the list.

  • Rickyscv

    An acquaintance had her ‘on-contract’ iPhone stolen 3 weeks ago; she didn’t have it locked, didn’t know about ‘find my iPhone’–didn’t know how to really use the phone I guess. Would her phone now be made unusable (to the thief) by the network?

  • Nigleet

    If she reported it stolen, then yes the phone is blacked by the supporting carriers mentioned in the article.

  • Anon

    What’s to stop someone from falsely reporting an IMEI as stolen?

  • Michel

    Unfortunately, the system won’t really help recover a stolen phone. The carriers will not alert someone with a ‘blacklisted’ EIMI that they have a lost or stolen phone.

  • She could try registering the imei today.

  • Chrome262

    funny thing is they do have the information, they just don’t really do anything with it other then keep track of stock and warranty information. They could flag it I guess, and they might already do that.

  • Nothing. And, for that matter – who ensures accuracy of devices reported, blacklisted?

  • MikeyXX

    As was mentioned, I wonder how you correct a mistake? Or if you reported your phone lost, then leave the carrier and then find the phone in your sofa and decide to sell it. How would you get it off the list? The carrier won’t listen to you once you aren’t a customer as they’ll assume you “found” the phone. This will cause a stir in the used market (which is probably good for the manufacturers and carriers as they’ll sell more phones).

  • Raylza

    Hello….I have an iPhone 5s that is locked to MTS, if someone steal my iphone, would them me able to use it? I mean, I know that MTS will blacklist the phone, would the thief be able to use my phone outside Canada?

  • Vipin

    How do I place my stolen phone on this list?

  • Sidney

    Contact your cellphone provider and they will do it.

  • Gues

    It does nothing but created more stress for ppl who are buying used phones from original owner from kijiji or craigslist .. If owners don’t pay their bills they blacklist those phone which is already sold to second owner. And now second owner has a brick worth 500 dollar

  • yre

    useless list…does nothing. Go to any retail shop and they do not even check the IMEI against any registry.

  • Faz

    The whole point of this regulation is to make people buy new phones in order not to lose business. It does not protect consumers in any way and really saddens me that it is presented in such was as to protect us from cellphone theft. If i lost my phone i lost it PERIOD. the blacklist will only help the carrier to keep selling brand new phones.

  • Morgan T

    You must have the phone with a Carrier in order to report it lost. Even though I have the reciept for my phone which was lost before Sept-30-2013, I cannot get Rogers to add my IMEI to the database. If my present phone gets stolen or lost, I’m glad that when I report it the thief won’t have an easy time re-using it. Whenever possible I leave my contact info tagged on the phone or on it’s lock screen so it’s return is possible if someone honest finds it.

  • Morgan T

    It’s a minor deterrent to cellphone theft. The blacklist has existed for a long time but was just for phones still owned by the carrier. Now phones assigned to their customers will be added to the list.

  • Morgan T

    I dislike the idea of someone finding or stealing my cellphone and making use of it. You don’t get to use my stolen or lost phone 😛

  • Morgan T

    I suspect that if you bring an unlocked phone to a carrier and it’s not on the list you’ll be fine in terms of using it. If that phone gets lost or stolen they probably won’t add it to the list since they have no proof from you that you are the owner. It’s primarily phones that you’ve obtained from the carrier or it’s distributor which are of course locked to them which may be added to the database. Verifying ownership of lost unlocked phones would be an unnecessary cost/risk from the carrier’s perspective.

  • Gurinder Khurana

    i bought the nexus 5 on kijiji. it worked fine for 1 month. now the network dropped. when i checked it was reported lost or stolen. i have all the emails and phone number of person who sold me. he is not replying now. can i report to police….

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