From February 3, the government is planning to start the registration of IMEI numbers, a unique number assigned to each mobile phone, and build a central database to catch criminals who use illegally imported phones.

The Posts and Telecommunication Division and Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA) have jointly taken the initiative, which will allow authorities to easily verify whether a mobile phone had been legally imported.

Although the government plans to keep IMEI records of all the phones that would be legally imported after February 3, no plan has been finalised yet on how to collect the IMEIs of the devices currently in use.

Every phone or mobile broadband device has a unique 15 digit code, called an International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.

Rezwanul Haque, general secretary of BMPIA, said the previous initiative to register SIMs would ensure 50% of the security, while IMEI or handset registration would allow foolproof security.

“In cooperation with Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), we are also going to introduce automated mobile handset IMEI number database which will also help us a lot to verify the genuine handsets,” said Rezwanul.

“Around 20% handsets are entering the country illegally through airports, land ports and sea ports, which is very alarming considering security reasons,” he said, adding that IMEI registration would also play a vital role in stopping VoIP calls.

According to law enforcement agencies, most criminals use illegal handsets to carry out their crimes. A central IMEI database would help law enforcers locate mobile devices and arrest criminals.

According to BMPIA, last year a total 26 million smartphones were imported, while the number was only 4 million in 2014.

Industry insiders said the rate of illegal import of mobile phones has also risen exponentially in the past year.

Dr Moinul Khan, director general of Customs Intelligence and Investigation, said once the government introduces mobile handset registration, illegal import would be stopped.

Industry insiders said once the system is introduced, the entire security system would come under a single umbrella.

Source - Ishtiaq Husain,dhakatribune.

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