With the rise in terrorist activities and threats across the country, the government of India has passed a directive to block all mobile handsets that do not have a valid identity number.
This rule has been enforced since the beginning of December 2009.
Each mobile handset is supposed to have an International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) code, representing the official mobile operator. This is a 15-digit code that is printed inside the phone. This number allows the operator to track the handset. Whenever a call is made from the handset this number is displayed on the operator’s network.
Since a phone without this code number or a code consisting only of zeroes cannot be tracked, it can be misused by miscreants.
The law was meant to have been enforced back in October 2008, but was postponed repeatedly in order to allow users of cheap or unbranded Chinese handsets to get their phones validated.
It is estimated that about 13% of handsets currently in use in the country are unbranded and such handsets often have a common IMEI.
While there is no official estimate, the BBC has reported that almost 25 million of the 488 million phones in the country will be affected. India presently has the fastest growing mobile phone market, and millions of phones are being added every month.
Pankaj Mohindroo, President of the Indian Cellular Association, which represents mobile operators said, “We have to abide by the requirements of national security and help to create a legal ethical market.”