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Hack Your Phone, Go to Jail

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the yes-that-is-what's-next dept.

Technology 577

thodu writes: "This bill [Mobile Telephones (Re-Programming)] in the UK aims to make it illegal for anyone to change a GSM phone's IMEI number. Though the intention in this case is seemingly for the good (to track and prevent stolen phones from being used), the line between legitimate mods and illegal hacks is increasingly becoming blurred. What next - a bill to disallow modifying your PC ?"

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577 comments

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991613)

i r00l j00 l4m4hs

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991623)

fuck a kike

Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (5, Insightful)

3.5 stripes (578410) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991620)

Do you know of any, because I sure don't.

Why shouldn't something that only serves theives (as far as I can see) be illegal?

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (5, Insightful)

Queuetue (156269) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991687)

Why shouldn't something that only serves theives (as far as I can see) be illegal?
Because it's already illegal to steal phone service. Removing freedoms without cause hurts everybody.

Also, a silly counter-example - I'm a hacker, and in my basement lab, I've set up my own shielded, isolated cell network, just for kicks. And I want to have phone# 000-000-0001 (Those not in the US, please translate into your own localized version). Just because I *want* to. Or as a scientific experiment, a science fair project, or to learn more about the world around me. Why should that be illegal?

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991718)

dont worry buddy, no one's coming in that basement.

My cell phone was stolen and I bet the number was changed so someone could use it. You have to be reasonable here. If for every 1,000 hacks there is only 1 person doing it for scientific purposes then that one person has to pay the sacrifice for the greater good.

It seems like a small price to pay if it gets a few people their cell phone backs or less stolen.

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (5, Insightful)

sdjunky (586961) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991761)

"If for every 1,000 hacks there is only 1 person doing it for scientific purposes then that one person has to pay the sacrifice for the greater good."

So if 1000 people want to map the human genome to devise some kind of malicious bio warfare and 1 scientist wants to find the cure for cancer. Then the scientist needs to be treated as a criminal while the criminals will just go underground to do their work anyway.

Sorry, but the logic doesn't seem sound in my opinion

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991812)

Gosh here we go again, let me repeat, there is no scientific value in the IMEI number all the things of value are stored in the SIM card which is encrypted anyway, are we clear yet?

Changing the IMEI number is the equivalent to changing the chassis number of your car. What scientific value would there be in that?

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (1)

kuiken (115647) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991730)

you are still alowed to do that, There is no connection between IMEI and your phone number.
IMEI is more like a MAC adress your phone number is pure software,(actualy bound to the sim#)
So bad example.

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991768)

If you've got a shielded lab then it does n't matter what the IMEI number of your phone is and hence making it illegal to change it still does n't effect you. The IMEI does not affect your phone number, your phone number is in the SIM card not the phones serial number.

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (5, Insightful)

AlgUSF (238240) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991826)

It is not like changing your Phone #, it is more like changing the VIN number of your car. Which is very illegal. Sure you own the car, but why would you want to change the VIN # except for illegal purposes.

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (1)

palfreman (164768) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991757)

Yes, there is a legitimate reason. You bought the phone, you own it, so you can reprogramme it if you want to. You own the phone. You don't need any more reasons.

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (5, Insightful)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991782)

Yes, there is a legitimate reason. You bought the phone, you own it, so you can reprogramme it if you want to. You own the phone. You don't need any more reasons.


Oh for FUCKS SAKE. Every time, the same old arguments.

Look, 1 Mr. Geek may want to do this. In fact, no, they wouldn't, but one assy /. user who will argue against anything does.

Being able to do this allows people to steal and use phones, thereby causing 1000's of crimes.

What is more important, your 'right' to modify the phone, or to stop little punks mugging kids for their phones?

Furthermore, the fact is, although it's 'illegal', if you just do it in your room, you are unlikely to be caught and prosecuted for it, as compared to, say, if you did it and tried to sell a mobile phone.

So STFU about your damn rights being impinged on, jesus.

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (1)

McCart42 (207315) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991803)

Furthermore, the fact is, although it's 'illegal', if you just do it in your room, you are unlikely to be caught and prosecuted for it, as compared to, say, if you did it and tried to sell a mobile phone.

So STFU about your damn rights being impinged on, jesus.
If you did it and tried to sell a mobile phone, wouldn't they already be able to arrest you for stealing the phone and reselling it? Isn't the new law redundant? If all you're trying to do is prevent phone theft with this new law, why not step up punishment or enforcement of the preexisting law?

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (2, Insightful)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991823)

If you did it and tried to sell a mobile phone, wouldn't they already be able to arrest you for stealing the phone and reselling it? Isn't the new law redundant? If all you're trying to do is prevent phone theft with this new law, why not step up punishment or enforcement of the preexisting law?


Believe it or not, little 12 year old nobheads who rob phones on the street are not currently reprogramming them. There is a third-party who does this. Under current laws, sicne reprogramming phones is not illegal, its pretty hard to prove that people who do this are doing anything wrong (they would have to know that the phopnes were stolen).

If there aren't people to reprogram the phones, the thick twats will find something else to steal, job done.

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991853)

Or, alternately, they'll learn to do it on their own. Thereby scattering the "Industry" and making it harder to track down.

Just a thought.

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991804)

Alright, what about this, you own the phone, but you do not own the network, if they changed the law to say entering onto a cell network with an altered IMEI is illegal, would that suit you?

Re:Legitimate reasons for changing the IMEI? (1)

Keith_Beef (166050) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991818)

So I should also be able to grind the serial numbers off the chassis and engine of my car, too...

One Reason (3, Insightful)

squaretorus (459130) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991839)

Why shouldn't something that only serves theives (as far as I can see) be illegal?

Because your average JUDGE can't think of any legitimate reason to do ANYTHING!

There ARE legitimate reasons to take almost every drug known to man. From hash to E to charlie. At this point in history we are making a few token laws to specifically allow these uses - against a default background of criminality.

As soon as we cross the line of YOU having to prove you're NOT breaking the law by doing something - rather than THEM having to prove you ARE breaking the law, I get a bit worried.

I might have a cool system where I can have 4 phones act as one by changing IMEIs, which lets me log on on my bike - or something (and please - all you anals out there - chip in with how this wouldn't work - because THATS the point here!!!)

But in a background of this NOT being legal Im breaking the law until I prove Im not a thief exporting phones to Yemen.

What's the legit use of this? (1, Troll)

nagora (177841) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991621)

Why would a person other than a thief want to change this?

TWW

Re:What's the legit use of this? (4, Insightful)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991663)

Just to know they can.
There are honest people who just like to tinker.

Re:What's the legit use of this? (1)

Sabbac (23129) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991696)

Guess what! you can! you're smart enough!

Re:What's the legit use of this? (1)

kuiken (115647) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991828)

Its piss easy, Its about as hard as hooking a mouse to a computer, maybe my NIC example was not the best, as other ppl mentiont think of it as the Chasis(sp?) number on your car.

The only reason that a IMEI exists is to track stolen phones.

RTFA!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991750)

If you read the second link of the article, IMEI [torasap.com] it would explain what it is used for and why changing it is bad.

Moderators?? INSIGHTFUL?? He's asking a question that's BLATANTLY EXPLAINED if you just click a link and scan.

Re:What's the legit use of this? (5, Insightful)

MartinG (52587) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991776)

Why would a person other than a thief want to change this?

The approach of illegalising things that have a potential "bad" use just because nobody can come straight out with a "good" use will end in disaster.

Defrauding telephone companies is already illegal. If some the telephone companies don't want this heppening then they should put it in their contracts. There is no need for new legislation.

The only reason this is happening IMO is to tie in with the RIP bill amendments that the UK government have already tried to rush through (thankfully, the changed were met with sufficient resistance to delay for a while)
The government wants to be able to track and record everyones movement by their mobile phone. And of course this ability will prevent all future terrorist attacks and rid the country of crime. Everyone will he happy and all will rejoice.

future (1)

FigBugDeux (257259) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991624)

hopefully it'll soon be illegal to change your mac address...

Re:future (3, Funny)

Rhombus (104176) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991668)

hopefully it'll soon be illegal to change your mac address...

If altered MAC addresses are criminalized, only criminals wil have altered MAC addresses.

Re:future (1)

evilempireinc (592230) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991734)

There are ligitimate uses for changing a mac address. Take routers for cable/DSL connections. Some provider s check the mac address of the connecting computer which makes it necessary to change the mac address of the router to get it to work.

Re:future (1)

EnderWiggnz (39214) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991736)

then how would we keep tricking the ICA Server into handing us temporary licenses?

Americans are safe (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991627)

this is a bill by the filthy British in their own country. How will "My Rights" be affected by the actions of a country on the other side of the Atlantic?

Editors = idiots.

Re:Americans are safe (0, Flamebait)

TobyJohnson (589725) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991652)

why do you think there could be no british slashdot readers? americans == idiots

Re:Americans are safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991667)

Perhaps so, but the inverse is not true. When america fscks up an item of law, the rest of the world suffers with the american people, your DMCA is really screwing things up for the rest of us, likewise your entertainment industry bending (or just plain buying) changes in the law for their own interests, and then just wait as the american law seems to hold over the rest of us.

Re:Americans are safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991763)

That's as it should be. You baboons have demonstrated you're incapable of living a peaceful, civilized life. If America hadn't intervened and ran Europe after WWII you clowns would have fought three more wars with each other. The moment america leaves you guys will be hauling out your railroad car and trying to swap Alsace-Lorraine back and forth again.

Barbarians.

That's an awfully silly thing to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991628)

It seems that this legislation has a significant purpose. Changing the internal code violates the rights of the providers.

Not the Fr1st Ps0t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991629)

oh well. too slow today I guess. almost 20 seconds......

Consumer's rights (1)

Sherloch Hemloch (514137) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991639)

Whatever happened to the idea that when you buy something it's yours to do as you please? It seems to me that one doesn't actually own anything if you can't do with it as you please (ex. game systems, dvd players...now cellphones) Seems like the american tinkering pastime of 'hotrodding' is going the way of the dodo.

Re:Consumer's rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991681)

think of it in terms of getting a credit card then trying to argue that since it is yours it is ok to change the number to someone elses number.

Re:Consumer's rights (1)

Apiakun (589521) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991699)

That idea may hold true if the only effect of your changing that thing is for yourself. If you change the IMEI # you are affecting the network you are connecting to, potentially circumventing safeguards that have been put in place to prevent fraud. There is no valid reason that comes to mind to change this number. Think of it in terms of changing the VIN # of your car.

Re:Consumer's rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991799)

Beat me to it, but you are right-on. You aren't just changing what you bought (the cell phone) as much as you are changing the service provided to you (the network). If you violate the service code, then you no longer get the service. Sure, you changed the IMEI code on your phone, but you shouldn't be allowed into the service again.

Re:Consumer's rights (1, Redundant)

smellmyfart (592984) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991707)

There is a difference between this law and what you are talking about. You can modify your car completely but can you change your VIN number or license plate number with out notifying the proper authorities? No. This law isn't any different. I think there are some laws about hacking cells that seem unfair to me (can't remember what they are). I don't even think you can change a VIN number.

Re:Consumer's rights (1)

op00to (219949) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991833)

Uh, actually you can not modify your car completely if it's registered. If you alter emissions, the engine, color, etc, you must notify your local DMV. The people who do this, however, are far and few between.

Re:Consumer's rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991713)

I guess you also think it's an outrage that you are not allowed to mow pedestrians down with your new car, or shoot people in a mall with your shiny new pistol, or pratice "home medicine" with your ginzu knife.

Yes, stuff like DVD region codes suck, but I think not allowing people to change a phone's ID number (or VIN number on a car) is perfectly reasonable.

Re:Consumer's rights (3, Funny)

arson1 (527855) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991756)

I asked the cops the same thing when they took my sawed-ff shotgun and ruger 10-22 that I converted into a full-auto... :P

Re:Consumer's rights (3, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991824)

Whatever happened to the idea that when you buy something it's yours to do as you please?

That right doesn't actually exist. For example, I can buy a gun and ammunition, but that doesn't give me the right to fire in any direction that I please. The question is better approached from a perspective of individual freedom versus collective good.

Re:Consumer's rights (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991855)

Yes, great idea. I'll instantly buy all ingredients to make banknotes (i.e. basically paper and color, and may be some materials for imitating security measures). Now, since I own the ingredients, I can do whatever I want with them, right? So when I combine them so they just look like real bank notes... What? Illegal? Whatever happened to the idea that when you buy something it's your's to do as you please?

First Post Haiku (0, Offtopic)

Rhombus (104176) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991641)

Tried to type it in

But failed to get the first post
Damn these weak flesh hands.

Wasn't this passed already?` (1, Offtopic)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991642)

"What next - a bill to disallow modifying your PC?"

Didn't the Microsoft board already pass that bill and had Bill G sign it into law?

Flamebait, I know, but hard to resist. But really, it seems strange that XP requires you to re-register if too much hardware is changed on your PC. The only stealing it really prevents is duplicating a hard disk and installing that hard disk in a different computer containing different hardware. Ok, so it's Offtopic too, but it sorta relates to the whole "What am I not allowed to do now?" question.

Re:Wasn't this passed already?` (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991770)

Yes, its entirely off topic, and doesn't deserve the up-mods you got.

And, btw, I've had XP since it release, and have changed everything from memory, to motherboard, to adding in harddrives, and haven't had to re-register it. I think its just a scare tactic.

Oh, and BTW, I haven't had it crash on me once.

Re:Wasn't this passed already?` (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991805)

Sooo... you enjoy playing Battleship on your Ericcson phone too?

Re:Wasn't this passed already?` (1)

Steve Franklin (142698) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991822)

Have you tried swapping out harddrives and ending up with the same number of drives? That's what *I* would worry about if *I* were Microswift. It is nice to know you can add drives without going thru the rigmarole, though. I'm thinking of adding another drive to put Gnulix on. Should be completely transparent to XP. By the way, I didn't intentionally upgrade. My new Soyo board doesn't support Win 95 upgrade> 98SE. Vast conspiracy... ;o)

A good thing... (4, Informative)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991644)

While I generally don't agree with restrictions on the use of hardware I buy, this is a special case. The law is intended to reduce the amount of phone-thefts in the UK (the phones are then reprogrammed and re-sold). There is currently a huge problem with phone theft over here which is driven by the fact it's so simple to give a stolen phone a new identity, so I don't think this legislation is over the top...

Re:A good thing... (2)

mpe (36238) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991813)

While I generally don't agree with restrictions on the use of hardware I buy, this is a special case.

Is a special law really needed. It is already illegal to steal things, traffic in stolen goods, misidentify stolen goods as not stolen, etc.

The law is intended to reduce the amount of phone-thefts in the UK (the phones are then reprogrammed and re-sold).

Over specific laws tend to be bad laws, especially if they require constant tinkering to keep updated. Since the bill specifically mentions GSM and IMEI, which is an indicator of the legislation being too specific.

Re:A good thing... (1)

palfreman (164768) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991821)

I live in England too and I also have a valuable mobile phone. However, there are better ways of dealing with mugging than criminalising ligitimate use of consumer electronics.

This will do nothing to stop mugging, nothing to stop stolen phone chipping, but it will mean people like us will get sent to jail from time to time for excercising our normal (and legitimate) curiosity.

Re:A good thing... (5, Insightful)

liquidsin (398151) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991832)

But it's already illegal to steal. Think hard. Does this law actually do anything more to deter thieves, or only make things illegal for tinkerers? If the only place this law will be applicable is on stolen phones, and stealing them is already illegal, then this law ultimately serves no purpose that couldn't be served by enforcing stiffer penalties on thieves.

er no (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991651)

the line between legitimate mods and illegal hacks is increasingly becoming blurred.

No this is not the case with this law. There are no legit uses for hacking mobile phones. There are a huge number of people who do this (I think there was an article on the bbc website a while back but I am too lazy to look it up for referencing). This should indeed be stopped and it is nice to see a very focused bill instead of something that would do something stupid like outlaw EPROM burners altogether.

Re:er no (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991834)

No legitimate uses?

What if I want to clone my own phone that
will run off my one account, so say, my
wife has a cloned phone. Or perhaps I make
my living recieving and placing calls on my
cell - a duplicated phone might be a good
investment.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but without being
able to change the IMEI number I'd otherwise have to pay some fee (probably monthly) to my cell
company to do something I should otherwise
be able to do myself with the property that
I have purchased.

already a law in US, sort of (4, Informative)

ProfKyne (149971) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991653)

I don't mean to troll here, but isn't this similar to laws against removing VIN (vehicle id numbers) and serial numbers from high-cost goods in the US?

Of course, if this law extends to prohibit other modification of the phone that interferes with fair use, I suppose that's different....

Ridiculous analogy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991659)

What next - a bill to disallow modifying your PC ?"

In related news, there are laws on the books requiring that you not file off or modify your automobile's VIN. What next? Laws preventing you from painting your Red Ryder Wagon green?

Identifier (0, Redundant)

Espen (96293) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991665)

Where is the legitimate use for this? Apart from the fact that this is done electronically, how is it any different from making it illegal to change your licence-plate number to someone elses, or changing the chassis number on a car?

Re:Identifier (1)

Rhombus (104176) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991698)

....or altering your MAC address?

Its a real problem, but a poor solution (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991673)

Mobile phone theft is a real problem in the UK, and has caused violent crime to rise sharply over the past year. Understandably, politicians and police in the UK are concerned, and are trying their hardest to stop the problem.

The UK telecoms operators have mobilised their SIM management systems to allow them to disable mobile phones according to the ID on the phone; previously only one or two of them did this.

Now saying this; I don't see how this Bill will do anything to stop the situation. The phones are stolen already, and are in the hands of the criminals. No doubt they have a stack of them in a warehousr; anything else just isnt' profitable. Anyone who thinks the piddling little threat of extra jail time that this Bill adds will stop the bad guys from modifying the phones are out of their heads. Do they really believe that the criminals care what this Bill says?

Its nothing but a quick headline grab, something for grining-Blair to point at and say "We're doing something about it, look!" and then allows him to get back to inventing rating schemes for various shitty public services, and cutting funding to the police forces.

The real answer is simply to pay the police more, recruit more, and put them out on the streets where they can stop the phones being stolen in the first place. Like that'll ever happen.

Re:Its a real problem, but a poor solution (1)

ThogScully (589935) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991735)

I was thinking the same thing. Saying you can't change those numbers because it's against the law is akin to saying you can't steal people's phones because it's againse the law. However, if phones have to be engraved with the IMEI numbers akin to automotive VINs, maybe actually catching people who've renumbered phones will be easier.

Re:Its a real problem, but a poor solution (2)

Queuetue (156269) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991737)

I'm willing to bet it's a two-step process - make changing the numbers illegal, then make devices that change ids (Since they can now only be used for illegal activity) illegal. Then, go after id-changing hardware manufacturers, and try to starve the black market phone industry.

And to heck with whoever gets trampled in the process.

Re:Its a real problem, but a poor solution (2)

ebcdic (39948) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991751)

> Mobile phone theft is a real problem in the UK

But not as big a problem as has sometimes been claimed. A year ago the papers were running stories on the mystery of where all the stolen mobile phones were going - being exported to India perhaps? But the current theory is that many (maybe most) mobile phones reported stolen have not been stolen at all - their owners are just claiming on insurance and buying newer models.

Re:Its a real problem, but a poor solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991779)

But the current theory is that many (maybe most) mobile phones reported stolen have not been stolen at all - their owners are just claiming on insurance and buying newer models.

I don't know; most people I know just "accidently drop" their phones. Oddly enough, usually onto concrete from a fair height, and at quite a speed.

Then again, maybe the telcos have got wise to that one, which might explain the rise in "theft"...

Tinfoil hats on!

Re:Its a real problem, but a poor solution (1)

bezell (532240) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991766)

Why not simply legislate use of a false number to be illegal? Equate it to fraud and use the laws already on the books. This way you could change it, but use of such an altered phones would violate the law.

Car Chassis number analogy? (1)

alister667 (254980) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991685)

Would it be a fair analogy to compare the IME1 to the chassis number on a car? Would you back the right to be able to change (sorry 'hack') car chassis numbers legally?

Re:Car Chassis number analogy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991758)

On my own car? You better believe it.

If I own item() then why can I go to jail for doing something to it? Either I don't really own the item or I don't really own myself... neither is a particularly appealing prospect.

What's the problem? (1, Redundant)

zerosignal (222614) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991686)

Are there any legitimate reasons for changing a phone's IMEI? It's like changing the vehicle identication code on the chassis of a car.

As long as they don't make it illegal to unlock phones from a particular network I don't see the problem.

The Bill intends well, but... (2, Informative)

altgrr (593057) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991688)

Other than copyright of the internal code of the phone, there is no reason why changing the IMEI number of a phone should be illegal (and the copyright reason is a dubious one at that).

However, there should be a law in place to prevent phones with an incorrect IMEI number being used on GSM networks.

As has been pointed out, there is no genuine reason, other than research, to want to change the IMEI number of a phone - usually, the reason is to avoid blacklisting by networks such as Orange and T-Mobile (Vodafone and O2 do not operate such a scheme currently.)

If there are problems with people changing the IMEI number of a phone, perhaps the IMEI should be hard-coded into one of the chips in the phone - it would then make it a lot harder to successfully, and transparently, change a phone's IMEI number.

Essentially, what those who are attempting to introduce this law are saying, is that there is a need to do something about people changing IMEI numbers. And this remains the case.

Re:The Bill intends well, but... (2)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991787)

So, lying to a company in order to fool them into doing business with you when they don't want to is a legitimate use?

It is illegal to modify your PC... (0, Redundant)

jsonmez (544764) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991691)

If you have windows XP installed that is.

Legitimate reasons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991693)

From the linked page:
Indeed there is no legitimate reason why anyone other than the manufacturer of a mobile telephone (or its authorised agents) should need to alter an IMEI number.
So what are the legitimate reasons for a manufacturer to do this, and why can't they apply to a private citizen?

EMEI can save lives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991702)

A friend (a girl) was missing... we found her using the EMEI number of her cell phone. It was used by the police to track her and even pinpoint the location. So I could see why it should be seen as illegal...

i could also ask you, have you ever changed the serial number of your VCR or even of your palmtop?

Re:EMEI can save lives (2)

cduffy (652) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991753)

I don't want the police to be able to track me via my cell phone -- indeed, I consider that one hell of an invasion of privacy.

Usage of a modified phone to steal services should be (and is already) illegal. Making a law against the act of modifying it... what's the point?

27th post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991709)

OMG!!! WOOT!!!

wait, 40th post!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991723)

WOOOT

Too many laws... (3, Insightful)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991710)

What ever happened to using already existing laws? If it's already illegal to sell stolen phones (which I assume, perhaps incorrectly that it is), why do you need an additional law covering this? This reminds me of the added penelty of using a computer to commit a crime. If the hardware is mine, it should be mine to do with as I please. Arrest me for selling a stolen phone, not changing a few bits on equipmetn I already own.

SealBeater

/. people are paranoid (1)

MacBoy (30701) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991712)

The fact is, there is no legitimate reason to need to change the IMEI number. This is a serial number, and it uniquely identifies each phone. Changing it is just the same as changing the VIN of a car. You can buy a used phone from someone else and activate that phone; this is actually easier than buying a used car and licensing it.

The comment "What next - a bill to disallow modifying your PC?", is clearly an attempt by the submitter to rouse emotions in people; to make them feel that they are being violated in some way by this bill. The bill is legit.

Re:/. people are paranoid (2, Interesting)

slakdrgn (531347) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991769)

Actually, atleast in the old days, there was a reason.. Say you had a car phone, and a regular cell phone.. Your car phone has hands free, intergrates with your stereo, makes food, whatever.. If they both have the same number, you can call from either phone using the same service, same account, same phone number.. I don't know how viable this now with digital pcs phones and the like, but atleast back in the mid 90s it was great..

A lot of companies charge extra for 2 phones, and they can't have the same number, etc.. thats what this was perfect for..

But I think now you have more people stealing phones then using this method to make life easier.

Re:/. people are paranoid (5, Insightful)

Skiboricus (597702) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991815)

I love it how people avoid any REAL discussion of events and possibilites by simply calling someone PARANOID.

10 years ago would you call someone paranoid if you were told that companies would market products that were implanted into your childrens skin so you could track them.

10 years ago would brand a person paranoid if your were told congress was debating a bill to allow companies to hack private citizens.

10 years ago would you call me paraniod if I told you people would be threatened with criminal penalities for reporting security bugs in software.

Debate, don't just label people.

Modding PC's (1)

fatwreckfan (322865) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991720)

"What next - a bill to disallow modifying your PC ?"
There's no bill yet, but just wait until Microsoft has some time to plant seeds of doubt and scratch some backs. It'll be called the Palladium [slashdot.org] bill.

I consider installing whatever software I want or changing my MAC address modding my PC.

as long as it avoids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991728)

What next - a bill to disallow modifying your PC ?"
If it avoids LED mods, cold cathodes, case windows and the like, im all for it!

take a hint from the Mac, elegance through simplicity people!

The downward slide of Socialism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991729)

To those Americans who are looking at this horrific action by our UK "friends" and thinking "Well, that will never happen here" .. wake up! If this country continues on its current course, rest assured that it most certainly will happen here. As long as people continue to vote for parties such as the Democrats, Greens, etc. you can expect things like this to happen here.

Vote either for the Republican or (preferably) Libertarian [lp.org] party if you want to see your country remain free, moral, and proud. The sons of bitches of Socialism will not win in this country.

IMEI nubmer is essential to reduce GSM theft (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991731)

Sorry, but I have no problems with this kind of law.
When your mobile phone gets stolen, all mobile phone operators who are enforce IMEI-based disabling will disallow phone calls. (Not all of them do this...)
This reduces the incentive to steal a mobile phone immensly.

It can have some unpleasant consequences though: some years ago, a batch of Nokia mobile phones was stolen, all of them with the same IMEI number. Those phones eventually ended up in stores, where they were, legally, bought by consumers.
Unavoidably, one of those phone got stolen and that IMEI number got blocked. As a result, thousands of people ended up with a disabled phone. Nokia refused to do anything about it, since they can be hold responsible for phone that were bought through 'grey' channels.

Government Interference Sucks (2, Interesting)

netphilter (549954) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991738)

There are laws in place about stealing phone service...just enforce them. Don't create new, more specific ones. If we continue to let the government infringe upon our rights...it's never going to end.

Re:Government Interference Sucks (1)

Zephy (539060) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991838)

I Don't see how this infringes on my rights. Changing the IMEI on a phone is very different to changing the MAC address on your ethernet card. A much better analogy would be Changing the numberplate on your car, it's used for identification and billing purposes, and all the time a car is in existance, the numberplate is with that car (alright unless you change the registration with the DVLA to a personalised one) And it's illegal to change without the proper authority (from the dvla) to do so.

groan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991742)

and how exactly is this different from, say, removing the Vehicle ID Number (VIN) from your car? discuss and explain, citing examples from the reading.

Lets not worry too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991749)

You can't even compare modding a case to this legislation. Nobody is saying you can't stick a fan and some neon in your phone, if thats what your really want to do. If you want to relate the article to computer modding, consider overclocking. Is it reasonable to wonder if they will make overclocking illegal, because scamsters could overclock a computer and sell this less-stable creation at a higher amount?

It's about time for another revolution. (1)

jsonmez (544764) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991773)

This is what a propose. I am going to buy three ships, I'll call them the Ni, the Pinto Bean, and the Santa Clause, and I am going to sail to Antartica and form America II. Whoever would like to go with me can do so, and we will break away from America like America did from Britan. In America II when you buy something you can do whatever you want to with it, (I know this article is talking about UK, but humor me). In America II you can buy a DVD player that's not coded for Antartica and play Antartica movies on it, if you can hack it. In America II you can type whatever you want break into whatever system you want and copy anyone's work, so long as no one gets physically injured and your not breaking the law. Oh, also I will be needed someone to setup a wireless ISP for me once I arrive.

Number used to track people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3991774)

What is an IMEI number?
The GSM MoU's IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) numbering system is a 15 digit unique code that is used to identify the GSM/DCS/PCS phone to a GSM/DCS/PCS network.

When a phone is switched on, this unique IMEI number is transmitted and checked against a database of blacklisted or greylisted phones in the network's EIR (Equipment ID Register).

This EIR determines whether the phone can log onto the network to make and receive calls.
...
What effect does a listing of an IEMI number with an EIR have?
If the EIR and IMEI numbers match, the networks can do a number of things. They can for example greylist or blacklist a phone:

-Greylisting will allow the phone to be used, but it can be tracked to see who has it (via the SIM info).
-Blacklisting bars the phone from being used on any network where there is an EIR match


So if I get wrongfully (or rightfully) blacklisted, my mobile becomes worthless, even if I sell it to Grandma.

If I get greylisted, the phone companies and (this being the UK with its RIPA Act) any government agency from MI5 to the local library, can track me.

I think this is a little alarming.

Selling (1)

McCart42 (207315) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991783)

What about if I want to sell my phone after I've discontinued service and switched providers? Does this present a problem? Granted, I'm American, so this doesn't affect me, but hypothetically speaking, I'd like to know.

Re:Selling (1)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991809)

What about if I want to sell my phone after I've discontinued service and switched providers? Does this present a problem? Granted, I'm American, so this doesn't affect me, but hypothetically speaking, I'd like to know.

The phone has a unique ID, when its reported stolen, it doesn't work no more. The problem is where?

Hm (2)

zapfie (560589) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991784)

I really don't think they care what you do to your phone- it's yours to do what you like. I think what they do care is how you present yourself to the cellular network (the IMEI number). To do that, it happens to involve changing the phone, but I don't think the phone is the real issue here- it's the network.

Is it really yours? (1)

phloda (530937) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991791)

The most probable analogy to computers as we known them is the Mac address (if you could change it in firmware or something).

This law prolly has more to do with the telco's inability to audit their own records and control their network than with cell phone theives.

Not really a hack, but... (2, Funny)

Jippy_ (564603) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991807)

In my special world, anyone who download "Barbie Girl" as their ring tone would be sent to jail.

and if they had their ring set to the max volume, death.

=-Jippy

Not just the IMEI! (2)

Builder (103701) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991817)

The problem here is that they are not just stopping you hacking the IMEI. I know of no legitimate reason to do this.

As far as I am aware though, this bill also stops you hacking things that there is good cause to. Things like unlocking your phone so that you can use it abroad with other networks.

May be missing something here... (2)

Kraegar (565221) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991835)

But how will making a law stop a thief?

If they're planning on fencing a stolen phone anyway, will one more law stop them? They've already broken one law by stealing the phone.

Un-necessary government intervention (1)

magiccap22 (318891) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991841)

Why don't the phone manufacturers just make it read only? Isn't that much simpler than passing a law, and in everyone's best interests?

Law (2, Insightful)

Evro (18923) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991851)

What next - a bill to disallow modifying your PC ?

Isn't this the purpose of the DMCA? To ensure that if "copyright protection measures" are included in your PC (or other "digital device"), it's illegal to remove them?

The lazyness of the Technology Companies (2)

famazza (398147) | more than 11 years ago | (#3991854)

The lazyness of the Technology Companies amazes me, instead of developing safe protocols avoiding users to do whatever they don't want to, they try to solve this problem by creating laws and acts that legaly prohibit the users to user their equipament the way they want to.

IMHO Tech Co. should be treated just like us, regular citizens that must adapt ourselves to the new technology to keep employed.

It is really sad to see all this "moneyfull" companies doing whatever they want to the people of countries that call themselves democratics.

Something must be done...

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