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CRTC to Carriers: Setup Registry to Stop ‘iCrime’ Or We’ll Force You To

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The Globe and Mail reports the CRTC is ready to crack down on ‘iCrime’, the increasingly alarming rate at which smartphones such as the iPhone are brazenly stolen by thieves. How so? It wants our wireless carriers to setup a national registry to track stolen devices such as iPhones or iPads or other smartphones. If they don’t? The CRTC will look into forcing our carriers to go ahead through regulation:

The CRTC, which says it will explore regulatory options if it remains unsatisfied by the industry’s response up until Nov. 30, joins a growing chorus of critics, including police and politicians, who argue wireless firms are failing to do their part to protect consumers. Carriers in the U.S. are moving to set up a similar database to prevent stolen devices such as iPhones and iPads from being reactivated – and reducing the incentive for theft.

The reason for the lack of progress in creating this registry is the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association’s (CWTA) claim it is not able to disclose detailed statistics on the number of lost and stolen devices, as this information is considered “competitive, proprietary and confidential,” to our wireless carriers–something the CRTC refuses to believe.

New chairman Jean-Pierre Blais appears to be taking a pro-consumer stance since taking office this summer. One such pro-consumer move was the creation of a Chief Consumer Officer position that started today.

Back in August, the Globe and Mail similarly reported our wireless carriers ‘vowed’ to fight ‘iCrime’ together, but once again companies refused to share proprietary information with each other.

What do you think? Should our carriers setup a registry to track lost and stolen devices? If one isn’t created, should the CRTC step in and protect us?

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  • Oh yeah, lets force the hand of the carriers into adding a service which a) already exists for many phones, b) will cost the carriers money to implement (costs gets passed on to the users) and c) opens the flood gates on even more privacy concerns.

    If you want this feature you can buy a phone that has tracking implemented already. A tracking method that you the owner has control over, rather than your carrier. Why should it be the responsibility of the carrier (whose business should be dedicated to providing a solid, fast wireless network) to track your device for you.

    IF the carrier wanted to provide such a service with a separate fee, for those who either do not wish to use or do not have this built in function then sure! Why not offer the option, but government enforced? Really? That never ends well.

    Take care of your device, learn to use its security features, and take responsibility for your possessions; don’t force the rest of us to pay for your carelessness, ignorance, or misfortune.

  • Coluch

    Solution: Legislate that non-user specific information on stolen handsets be shared with the CWTA. No need to setup any new systems or privacy concerns.

    Thank you, I’ve earned my cookie. Gimme.

  • gtasscarlo

    I thought the crtc’s main concern was lining the pockets of the big three with more cash.

  • Randy Ritraj

    I hope someone steals your iPhone!

  • xxxJDxxx

    It would seem that there would be better ways to go about solving this problem. Changing legislation to allow police more freedom to attempt to recover stolen devices might be one of them.

  • draz

    Obtain iPhone -> turn it off -> pull the sim -> dfu mode -> new iPhone -> resell
    What good is tracking software?

    If the registry were in place then the original owner can just report the IMEI# and it gets added to the registry so that the device cannot be reactivated on any network; making the above process useless. The phone will still work if sent outside the country though (if unlocked)

  • Okina

    Speaking from experience, you can take the greatest precautions in the world, and that’s still not enough. Sometimes it’s an off moment, and sometimes it’s just destiny.

    If a would be thief is so determined, they’ll figure out something. But nothing wrong with stacking the deck in favour of the owner.

  • Agreed, you can take the greatest precautions in the world and it won’t be enough… So why enforce yet another fee / service? By all means, add it if you want, if the carrier wants to offer tracking as a value added service in hopes to one up the competition. My argument is against government legislation, requiring them to add this.

    What’s wrong with “stacking the deck” in favour of the owner is the fact that it is not in favour of all owners. With this in place, if I wanted to take matters into my own hands and take responsibility for my own devices I can’t. I will likely be required to pay an added cost to my carrier to keep track of me/my phone for me.

  • I agree that an iOS device’s tracking is able to be circumvented. Any system will have its flaws. It’s good enough for me though, it’s free, and I hold the keys & the responsibility.

    My carrier is my wireless ISP as far as I am concerned. Their time and efforts should be spent on providing the best service to me as a customer. Government getting involved and requiring them to add a service will affect me by likely adding on a service fee and by taking those efforts away from the main reason I want an account.

    Again if the carrier decides to add this service, that may give them a one-up on the others, a reason some may choose them over others. The idea that it is a potentially government enforced issue is what concerns me the most.

  • Well you’re awfully kind there Randy. Do you really hope someone steals my phone?

    I was expressing a concern over our government forcing a business to take time/money away from their regular services and provide a service which I do not feel is of any value to me as a customer. Ultimately be it in quality of service or in fees this will reach the customer. I’d prefer the carrier choose this action if they so desire, so that we as customers can make an informed choice on the matter.

    And while you’re awfully hostile Randy, I still don’t hope anyone takes your phone.

  • Wow. There are a lot of assumptions out there. It is bloody easy for the carriers to report/block a GSM/LTE device that is reported as stolen. Carriers in Europe do it all the time. Each device has a unique IMEI number that does not change regardless of what SIM you put into it.

    They already have most of the infrastructure in place and all they would need to do is publish the stolen IMEI numbers to a central database and ban them from all of their networks. They could also track those stolen IMEI numbers prior to banning them and hand that information over to the police if they requested it.

    Once an IMEI is banned, it cannot be activated/used on any network subscribing to that list.

  • toylover

    The problem with Apple products is that they are worth stealing. Some people have been hurt and even died when thieves became aggressive. If they come up with a system that makes stolen/ lost iPhones and iPads worthless I can assure you that the theft/ return rate will change drastically. In the end we’ll be safer. The wallpaper on my iPhone says IF FOUND PLEASE CALL XXX-XXX-XXXX for a reward. I haven’t lost it yet but the odds of getting it back these days are not very good.

  • funguy

    They cant do this, they will put millions of “thug life” teenagers out of jobs

  • draz

    All our iPhones ‘phone home’ to Apple constantly. They control the carrier locking, and many other things. Apple can put in a system that blocks these stolen devices from being used!

    Sure the carriers can put in a system for all devices. But if taken outside the country and unlocked that system is useless.

    As this an Apple blog, we need to force Apple to develop and release a system where you can report an iPhone stolen and that device can NEVER be used on ANY network worldwide.

  • New app coming: Destroy my iPhone.

  • The fact that this is even a debate is a deeply depressing sign of the attitudes of the mobile providers in Canada. If it’s enough for the rest of the developed world why not Canada? Canadians are already overcharged and vastly under-provided by the cellphone companies — but this should be a basic necessity and if direct intervention is the only way to get the companies to see this then so be it.

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