From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at cody[AT]borderstan.com.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Julius Genachowski, and Mexican Communications Under-Secretary, Hector Olavarria Tapia, signed an agreement to help address the trafficking of stolen cell phones between the United States and Mexico. Genachowski announced the agreement November 13, according to a release. (See FCC Announces Plans to Reduce Smartphone Thefts, Protect Data.)
Mexican and U.S. authorities will increase efforts to prevent stolen phones from the United States from being re-activated in Mexico and vice-versa. The FCC and Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transport will also work jointly to target international phone trafficking rings.
These efforts build on the FCC’s “PROTECTS Initiative,” which creates a database of stolen phone serial numbers to prevent the reactivation of these devices. (FCC Announces Plans to Reduce Smartphone Thefts, Protect Data). The Initiative also includes efforts to increase the use of passwords on smartphones and make consumers aware of services and applications such as the “Find my iPhone” app that can help locate and lock stolen products.
Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier made remarks at the announcement of the agreement. Lanier lauded the efforts of the FCC and was especially happy that the federal government worked quickly on this effort to protect consumers and reduce the number of robbery victims.
Smartphone theft has become an increasing problem in a number of major cities including DC, where Chief Lanier estimates 60 to 70 percent of robberies are cell-phone related. A video of the announcement and Lanier’s remarks are available.
CTIA-The Wireless Association announced on October 31 that all of the major cell phone providers had met the deadline of creating a database of stolen cell phone serial numbers. Currently, any phone reported stolen to AT&T, Cellcom, Nex-Tech Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile or Verizon Wireless cannot be reactivated on that network’s service.
AT&T and T-Mobile have taken steps to ensure that stolen AT&T phones cannot be activated on T-Mobile and vice versa. By November 30, 2013, the database will prevent stolen phones from being reactivated on any service. CTIA also has tips and information on preventing and reporting cell phone theft.