An International Mobile Equipment Identification or IMEI number is a unique 16 or 17 digit number used in mobile phone tracking. The number helps identify the owner’s location, incoming call links, and contacts. Almost every mobile phone has one of the unique numbers, except for a large number of Chinese mobile phones.
Many Chinese manufactured mobile phones lack an IMEI number because to keep production costs low. The phones either have no number at all or have a sequence of zeros. This makes it very hard to keep track of mobile phone users. If a terrorist got a hold of these phones, the results could be very detrimental.
“The IMEI numbers also gives details of other sim cards being used in the same handset. But, if it is a Chinese phone, getting these details becomes difficult,” said an official working with intelligence agencies.
The government is in the process of banning the sale of these phones because IMEI numbers and sim cards are very important to track a mobile phone. Intercepting phone calls of these phones are very difficult because calls cannot be traced from a phone that does not have an IMEI Info number.
The issue was brought to the attention of TechNet (technical intelligence), which is a group of intelligence agencies in border areas. The agencies warned that there were many of these inexpensive, low quality Chinese mobile phones without IMEI numbers on the grey market. There were also Chinese smuggled handsets that have a dual sim card feature. In response to this warning, new software is needed.
Service providers of mobile phones have to load all of the Chinese phones without an IMEI number with new software, giving them a unique IMEI number. The owners of mobile phones will have to pay for this software.
Throughout the next two months, owners of these Chinese mobile phones without IMEI numbers must load the special software to give it an IMEI number. If owners do not load the software by the deadline, they will no longer receive mobile phone service.