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US carriers join forces on stolen phones database, play catch up to rest of world

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 07:31 AM

Post your comments for US carriers join forces on stolen phones database, play catch up to rest of world here
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#2 User is offline   Guye1m4 

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  Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:42 AM

I sure hope the FCC makes the carriers distinguish between truly stolen and phones that the carrier considers "bad" because they believe the contract is unfulfilled (or there is a balance on the final bill). In the latter case, it is often a dispute between customer and carrier and the carrier should NOT have the upper hand or leverage to threaten "bricking" the phone (declare "stolen") just because they think the customer owes them something.

Similarly, there needs to be a mechanism to UN-blacklist a phone. Quite often a phone is thought to be lost or stolen but then later turns up, is found or is returned by an honest finder, etc. Such phones need to be restored to usability.

Also the issue of transfer of ownership, and therefore transfer of the right to declare a phone "stolen", needs to be very carefully designed. Supposing I buy a used phone from CL or ebay. Somehow the ownership needs to transfer to me such that the seller CANNOT now declare that phone to be "stolen". However requiring that that newly sold phone be activated by a carrier to transfer ownership is NOT a good mechanism -- I shouldn't have to do that and it can cause all sorts of problems.
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#3 User is offline   rmossman 

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  Posted 10 April 2012 - 11:43 AM

I don't understand what all the fuss is about. It's pretty common for a carrier to shut off service right now. When you buy a new phone they need to shut off the service to the old phone, If my phone is stolen don't they just shut off the service to the old phone when I buy a new one?

This big announcement (and I heard it last night) seems to say that not all carriers have a database of their users with information on the id of their phone, etc. I find that hard to believe. Otherwise, how could they manage their network and their business.

Why do the major carriers need to cooperate in this? If I lose my AT&T phone, I would call AT&T and they would just shut down the 3G/4G capabilities. What does T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint have to do with it? It's not like the phone will still be working on one of their networks.

I don't want this to sound like a "nut case". But, I'm actually worried that this is more just another opportunity to hold and use our information without our permission than it is to accomplish any great thing on our behalf. For that matter, given the chance, I'd have to think hard about whether it would be worth it to me to buy a new phone rather than have AT&T, Verizon, etc. and the US Government having one more opportunity to track my information.

BTW, the "Find my iPhone" app works great! My wife lost her iphone. A woman found it and called me just as I was locating my wife's phone. I was able to track the phone all the time that the woman had it and until she (kindly) returned it right to my wife. I didn't tell them I was tracking them or that I could shutdown the phone that way also.
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#4 User is offline   JoshuaShaffer 

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 12:47 PM

View Postrmossman, on 10 April 2012 - 11:43 AM, said:

I don't understand what all the fuss is about. It's pretty common for a carrier to shut off service right now. When you buy a new phone they need to shut off the service to the old phone, If my phone is stolen don't they just shut off the service to the old phone when I buy a new one?

...

Why do the major carriers need to cooperate in this? If I lose my AT&T phone, I would call AT&T and they would just shut down the 3G/4G capabilities. What does T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint have to do with it? It's not like the phone will still be working on one of their networks.
They don't actually shut off the phone, they shut off the service. That stolen phone is still perfectly fine and can be used both on AT&T's or another carrier's network (assuming it's compatible), if it is resold and a new service contract is set up. The carriers do nothing to track those stolen phones.

This just brings the US up to speed with the rest of the world, where the phone theft is reduced and the stolen phone market essentially all but gone because stolen phones are rendered useless.
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#5 User is offline   Penguirl 

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  Posted 10 April 2012 - 04:43 PM

I can't help but think that this might be an end run for the government to gain deeper hooks into the communications of it's citizens. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you will but the question begs asking.
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#6 User is offline   EbrahimAllie 

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  Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:03 AM

Here in South Africa where we have been able to blacklist stolen phones for years, it hasn't helped. Cellphone theft is still rampant because phones are usually stolen to be shipped to other countries where they will then work again.
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