Carriers, manufacturers, and the CWTA say they’ll take on “iCrime” in Canada

Ian Hardy

August 20, 2012 8:53am

Various Canadian wireless carriers, such as Rogers, Bell, TELUS, Quebecor (Videotron), Mobilicity, Public Mobile, SaskTel, Eastlink, and MTS, are on a mission to fight “iCrime.” No word on where WIND is, but the sudden interest stems from pressure by the Toronto and Vancouver Police departments to create a national registry of stolen devices. In an effort to deter criminals this unified registry would track a device, plus also ensure that it couldn’t be reactivated. Both Police departs are also seeking federal legislation to force the carriers into creating this registry, which according to the CWTA (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association) could “cost millions.”

Apparently the number of stolen cellphones and tablets has surged over the past 3-years – 2011 saw 1,800 cases in Toronto – and the companies will band together and work with the CWTA, plus several manufacturers to “examine security solutions” to reduce device theft. Devices that are stolen in Canada are reportedly sold on black markets in in Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East and Africa for hundreds of dollars.

The keyword is that the group is currently only be examining “security solutions,” nothing is concrete yet. The United States launched their registry last April and the CWTA will look at them for direction. In the meantime the CWTA says they’ll soon be launching an advertising campaign that will encourage Canadians to password protect their devices.

“If the industry can help mitigate the impact of crime on consumers, it will. If those measures have the added bonus of making wireless consumers less of a target for criminals, then the cost of establishing them will have been well worth it.”

Source: Globe

  • Eric Hacke

    Of course I’m sure that the same system being used to track stolen cell phones couldn’t also be used by law enforcement to track regular users without a warrant. Right?

    You really think law enforcement cares about your stolen cell phone?

    Looks like after Bill C30 got shut down, some marketing genius just rebranded the same system as a solution to cell phone theft and now the public will think the same surveillance is for their own good.

    Sneaky.

  • Paul

    Great…just what we need is another reason for an additional charge on our cell phones. This should not be a registry but an optional service someone can subscribe to. If someone wants this service then they want to pay extra so let them buy it. If I lose my cell phone I am out of pocket the equivalent of approx 600 bucks. If I am stupid enough to not have proper security features on it to prevent the theft of the info on it then that too should be my loss. I do not want the police suggesting any way that the they can track it or turn it off .I am sure that these criminals would find a way to reactivate these phones even if it meant replacing a chip making a registry worthless.

    • Curtis

      I don’t think you really get what they are asking for…..

      Nowhere do I read that the Cops want a room with a Big Giant Map of Canada that has glowing dots representing every active phone.

      They want a simple data base that would have a list of every serial number of a device that is reported stolen.

      So you call your provider to report the phone as stolen, they add the details of the device to the database.

      There are two very positive things about this.

      1: If every carrier in Canada is using this system, the devices can be black listed, so that they cannot be used domestically. This does not help in case of criminals stealing to fill Russian Market stalls, but it can cut down on domestic theft. Carriers currently can black list devices that are in their inventory, but there is currently no way for Bell to know that a Device sold by Rogers was stolen, unlocked, then used on their network.

      2: Police Raids often bring in massive hauls of stolen electronic devices. A data base of devices reported stolen would make returning those devices to their rightful owner easier, and therefore more likely to happen.

  • astudent

    I’ll use my own app, Thanks but no thanks.

  • Miknitro

    Same as previously said,I’ll use my own software I choose.

  • Kid.Canada

    Does that include crimes committed by the Big 3 because of their ridiculous price hikes?

  • Treatz

    it’s not software, they’re talking about an IMEI blacklist to ban IMEI’s from being re activated again.

    it’s been around forever and they never bothered because the stolen devices on their networks is more revenue.

    now because of police pressures they’re “examining” it?

    ya sure.

  • Yeria

    This is a stupid way to waste money because then criminals will just simply sell the devices oversea. In other words, this will not deter criminals from stealing our devices ONE BIT. Of course, Robellus will use this as one of their many headline excuses to charge us more fees.

  • TouchMyBox

    Back in my day, theft was referred to as regular old “crime”.

  • m82a1

    In Australia, telecom companies blacklist the IMEI numbers, not sure if they blacklist just for a specific network or all networks. That the other, an IMEI number can be blacklisted only for a specific network, or world wide. Its a shame this doesn’t happen in Canada. If anything happens in Canada, the SIM serial number is blocked from use – thats it. However that could be a good thing, what if you manage to find your phone AFTER you reported stolen. Either way, Canada needs to catch up on a few tech laws.

  • Junk

    poo poo

  • Yomun

    I know Rogers already blocks IMEIs on the their network. If you lost your phone and take advantage of their Hardware Protection Guarantee it will automatically block your old device from being used permanently.

  • Mad Man

    So people still aren’t using lock codes or patterns on their phones?

    wtf is “icrime”

    sounds like something apple should be charged with in relation to robbing so many sheep of their “idollars”

    is this rash of irobberies to do with people being careless with their wireless device?? or are we to believe that armed thugs are going around stealing peoples handsets at gunpoint?

    well time for some ibreakfast followed by an ipoop..

  • andy c

    with so much pirvate info on phones these days i’m surprised people are not password protecting there devices. most (if not all) modern smartphone OS’s have remote lock/wipe/tracking features built into devices already.

    Not every stolen phone goes overseas (with shipping costs i can’t see how this could be high margin operation) alot of phones end up on craigslist and kijiji

  • Geoff thompson

    If 1800 is the number in Toronto which is a big city, I’m not overly concerned and think there is bigger problems for police to deal with. In Vancouver they could start with getting rid of the corrupt police. So does anything with wires constitute an icrime. When I call 911 do I report that an iCrime has taken place.

  • Porilaisten

    I prevent my cell phone from being stolen by using a blackberry.

  • metoo

    Complete bullshit. Rogers has had this system for years, called the (C)EIR Registry/IMEI database. Entering IMEI’s blocks them from carriers around the world. BUT Rogers only registers phones stolen from them not their customers. Their stated goal is to make it unattractive to steal from them and to protect their property and staff. I guess they have no such concerns for you or me.

    Pathetic that it takes police action for them to do something and they will try to make themselves look like heroes. Remember, if you’ve ever had your phone stolen before, Rogers could have helped prevent that. They just didn’t want to because a stolen phone on their network works as well and generates the same money that any other phone does.

  • ToniCipriani

    Who came up with that name? iCrime sounds like something Apple does on a daily basis…

  • jack

    i dont understand how this would help AT ALL. people are still going to steal phones and sell it elsewhere. i mean great, u cant use a stolen phone in canada, but you would get more money selling it in europe anyways. gg waste of money

  • zzZZzz

    Front page picture is very misleading IMO :)

  • Porilaisten

    I don’t know what this guy is thinking, it looks like she’s using an old Nokia.

  • neil

    These guys are right. I starting working on an EIR 20 years ago, and up until last year I worked for the company that sold Rogers their EIR.

    What usually happens is that the GSMA (GSM Association) makes the operators HAVE an EIR, but from past experience it doesn’t mean they have to turn it on and USE it.

    Once theft gets hot in a country, the operators try and make themselves look good by saying THEY are introducing systems to track theft. The exact same thing happened in the UK too – the big operators came up with a scheme to deal with it. It’s still the EIR !

    And the plan is that operators can choose to upload their stolen handset database into the Central EIR, and so all operators round the world can share it.

    It’s all done based on the IMEI number of the phone. Simply enter *#06# on the dialpad and it will give you your 14 or 15 digit number. Keep a note of it !!!

  • Kyle Tuck

    1800 devices in Toronto. That should mean roughly 25000 phones stolen each year (or 12000 if “Toronto” means GTA).

    So about $12 million per year assuming the average stolen device is worth $500.

    In reality, I would guess the value of phones, combined with the services charged against the phone until it is reported stolen, to be about $5 million per year.

    Why is this a problem needing an urgent solution? I would hazard a guess that the value of stolen bicycles per month is as much as, if not more than, the annual amount for cell phones.

    I have to agree with those comments that stolen phones are primarily from owner irresponsibility.

  • Matt

    I can think of so many ways around giving the carrier the imei of the stolen device that I would say this almost isn’t worth it… the cost of keeping such a database between all carriers is so miniscule.

    • Morgan

      Matt,

      Once you get a SIM card and are on the carrier’s network, they have your IMEI. If the phone is stolen it would get blocked (no phone or data service) and you’re still stuck with their contract but getting no service. The law should force the carrier to report your name & info to the Police so they can retreive the stolen phone and return it to the legal owner.

  • 2dfx

    The guy in the purple hoodie represents the anti-RIM trolls on MobileSyrup.

    They comin’ to get you!

  • T1MB0T

    Wind is not worried no one wants their phones! Right Canadian Cow ahhaha! SF oh is to laff!