SCHUMER ANNOUNCES LEGISLATION TO CRACKDOWN ON BLACK MARKET FOR CELL PHONES; WILL MAKE TAMPERING WITH THE UNIQUE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER OF A STOLEN CELL PHONE A FEDERAL CRIME
Last Year, Schumer NYPD Announced a Agreement Between Cell Carriers FCC to Create Stolen Cell Phone Registry; Database Would Keep Track of Cell Phone ID NumbersSchumers Bill Will Ensure Thieves Dont Try to Circumvent Database By Altering Cell Phone ID Numbers; Legislation Would Add Criminal Penalty of Five Years for Altering Unique Identifier
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today reintroduced legislation that will make it a federal crime to tamper with the unique identification number of a cell phone by imposing a five year criminal penalty. Last year, Schumer, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a new effort along with major cell phone carriers that would create a stolen cell phone registry to track unique cell phone identification numbers. The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers allow cell phone companies to permanently disable stolen cell phones once they are reported stolen.
Schumer has been leading an effort to crackdown on cell phone theft and last year called for the creation of a national database among the carriers. Schumer noted, however, that without a criminal penalty for tampering with IMEI numbers, thieves could try to get around the ban simply by altering the number to reactivate the phone. The Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act of 2013 adds a criminal penalty of up to five years in prison for tampering with the IMEI number of a cell phone.
"These 'applepicking' crimes of stolen smart phones are rapidly rising and we must make it clear that if you alter a cellphone identification number of a stolen phone, you will face serious consequences," said Schumer. "This legislation will make it a federal crime to evade the police the cell phone registry, making it much less likely for these sometimes violent crimes from occurring."
Before last year's historic agreement, when cell phones were reported stolen, many American cell phone companies only deactivated the phone's "SIM" card, which is the account data storage component of the device. While deactivation of a SIM card does not allow for the device to be used with existing data and account information, SIM cards are easily removed and replaced, allowing stolen phones to be easily resold on the black market. Last year, at Schumer's urging, the industry agreed to work together with the FCC and establish a nationwide, interconnected database that will allow the carriers to share information on stolen cell phones across networks and ban the use of cell phones reported stolen. Schumer's bill, the Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act of 2013 will add criminal penalties of up to five years for tampering with cell phones in order to circumvent the service ban on a stolen phone. The bill has the full support of CTIA, the Wireless Association, who have joined forces with Schumer and the FCC to implement the national database.
According to the FCC, approximately 40% of thefts in major American cities involve cell phones. According to the NYPD, "applepicking" or stolen Apple products, including iPhones, made the city's overall crime rate increase last year. "Apple picking" makes up 14% of all crimes in New York.
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