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Hack Your Phone, Go to Jail 577

Posted by timothy
from the yes-that-is-what's-next dept.
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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Hack Your Phone, Go to Jail

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  • by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @09:52AM (#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?
  • er no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 01, 2002 @09:55AM (#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.

  • Ridiculous analogy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 01, 2002 @09:56AM (#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?
  • by CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @09:57AM (#3991663)
    Just to know they can.
    There are honest people who just like to tinker.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 01, 2002 @09:57AM (#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.
  • by Queuetue (156269) <scott&pantastik,com> on Thursday August 01, 2002 @09:59AM (#3991687) Homepage
    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?
  • Too many laws... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SealBeater (143912) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:01AM (#3991710) Homepage
    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
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:04AM (#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.

  • by sdjunky (586961) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:08AM (#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
  • by MartinG (52587) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:09AM (#3991776) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by yatest5 (455123) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:11AM (#3991782) Homepage
    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.
  • by Skiboricus (597702) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:16AM (#3991815) Homepage
    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.

  • by yatest5 (455123) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:17AM (#3991823) Homepage
    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.
  • by s20451 (410424) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:17AM (#3991824) Journal

    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.

  • by AlgUSF (238240) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:17AM (#3991826) Homepage
    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:A good thing... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liquidsin (398151) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:18AM (#3991832) Homepage
    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.
  • One Reason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by squaretorus (459130) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:18AM (#3991839) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Law (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Evro (18923) <evandhoffman&gmail,com> on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:20AM (#3991851) Homepage Journal
    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?
  • by yatest5 (455123) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:22AM (#3991864) Homepage
    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.

    I own my car, can I scratch the VIN off it?

    I own my gas supply, can I leave it running until the street blows up?

    I own a radio scanner, can I use it to scan police frequencies?

    Society has rules, if you don't like them, fucking leave it!
  • by bblgoose (597704) <<timb> <at> <stokefolk.com>> on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:22AM (#3991870) Homepage Journal
    It's illegal to steal a phone, right? If I've stolen a phone, I'm probably not gonna be vastly upset to have to break another to make it usable.
    The only people who'd want to change the IMEI (that I can think of anyway) would be hackers etc who want to either learn some stuff or develop some stuff. Nothing too harmful there IMHO, and if the phone isn't stolen I can't really see the phone co. saying anything more than "sorry, your warranty's just gone bye-bye" if you do this. Fair enough.

    I can see one point to this law though. At the moment, I can take any phone into any phone shop, and have the IMEI changed in 10 minutes, no questions asked. This law will stop this happening. It means theives will have to get the equipment and knowledge to do this themselves. In that sense, it will slow down casual mobile thefts. It'll never stop it, cos there'll always be people who can do it, and shops which will do it under the counter. But hey, it's a start.

    Personally, I'm quite happy with my IMEI number, so I'm not overly fussed about not being allowed to change it :-)
  • by mpe (36238) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:24AM (#3991886)
    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.

    It is, since the registration of VINs and other vehicle identifying numbers is handled by a government agency. If the bill set up something like the DVLA then the car analogy would hold. Instead the bill hands specific power to the manufactures, private (and foreign owned) businesses. It would be as if car makers were in charge of car registrations...
  • by MrFredBloggs (529276) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:24AM (#3991887) Homepage
    There arent any. This has been discussed to death on all the Usenet forums.

    Nothing to see here.
  • Re:One Reason (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:24AM (#3991888)
    I understand your point about guilty til proven innocent, and with many of your points it's true, but this really doesn't apply to this situation.

    If you want to mod your phone that badly, I'm sure there must be some legitimate channels, or maybe even a license to do so, the point and purpose of this law is quite obvious, and IMHO really does serve its purpose quite well.
  • by CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:25AM (#3991893)
    If you chopped off the chasis number on a car you own, it doesn't hurt anyone but yourself.. Why should you go to jail for that?
  • by forgoil (104808) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:25AM (#3991895) Homepage
    Hell yes.

    I can buy gasoline in most countries, getting hold of sand in small quantities are legal as well. So is buy a coke in a bottle. It is not legal to add those and a rag and walking with it in public.

    The whole thing about changing the phone is bollocks. There are no reasons to change the number OTHER THAN BEING ILLEGAL. But if you do it to your own phone, and then don't use it (since you damn well don't own the network), nobody will know, and nobody will care.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:35AM (#3991969)
    As everyone has pointed out, there is no legit reason for changing an IMEI and making it harder to change IMEIs will cut down on (violent) phone theft, save lives and make the world a better place. However, legislating is not the solution. If it's illegal to change an IMEI, phone manufacturers will argue that it isn't a problem that they're easy to change; the new law has 'fixed' that problem. If there is no law against it, the government has more leverage to pressurise the phone companies into fixing the real problem, which is that it's very easy to change the IMEI number. On the other hand I'd be in favour of a law banning the sale of phones with changeable IMEIs. Whatever happened to non-erasable PROM memories?
  • imei (Score:2, Insightful)

    by doofusclam (528746) <slash@seanyseansean.com> on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:40AM (#3992017) Homepage
    This bill is needed. Now before all the geeks go on about their god-given right to impress their friends with new IMEI numbers(?!) i'll tell you something.

    EVERYONE I know here in Britain who owns a mobile has had one robbed at some point in time. People have been murdered for their mobiles as they're an easy target, especially from children, and the resell value is high. There are some places I wouldn't go with a mobile visible, not that I would go waving it around anyway.

    There are some freedoms worth fighting for but - the right to change an IMEI number? Get a grip. I'd prefer the right to walk down the street without getting the mobile robbed.

    Oh, and not being able to change the IMEI means the phone can be permanently barred or even tracked. If it's changed you're stuffed.

    seany
  • by colmore (56499) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:51AM (#3992095) Journal
    Actually, you can scratch off the VIN and you can monitor police frequencies.

    Blowing up your neighborhood is obviously illegal because, well, you blow up your neighborhood. Recklessly endangering others is illegal for very good reasons, and has nothing to do with modifying a telephone that you own.

    I assume that the Iraq comment was a joke. But it's a good example. Just saying "society has rules" and not questioning those rules is a good way to end up in a nation where you can't criticize your leaders, religion, or society. I'm not the biggest patriot on my block, and I don't like the direction that America is heading in, but I'm sure glad that we're still (basically) free to live in (almost) any way that doesn't harm others.
  • Re:A good thing... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mpe (36238) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:55AM (#3992109)
    But it's already illegal to steal.

    It's already also illegal to traffic in stolen goods, misrepresent stolen goods as legitimate, defraud telephone companies, DOS legitimate mobile users.

    Does this law actually do anything more to deter thieves,

    The bill states that it is expected to have litte effect of policing, prosecutors and courts.

    this law ultimately serves no purpose that couldn't be served by enforcing stiffer penalties on thieves.

    It's apparent purpose is to present the impression of a government "doing something". With passing redundant laws being a prefered option to something like more police...
  • by Xaoswolf (524554) <Xaoswolf&gmail,com> on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:56AM (#3992118) Homepage Journal
    you won't, as long as you never sell the car, or drive it off of your property. If you want to just do donuts in your backyard, then be my guest, scratch off that number. Heck you don't even have to pass inspection or emisions tests for that.

    Same can be said for the phone, as long as you never use the phone on the public airwaves or try to sell it you're fine. So you just need to shield your house and sit in your basement and talk to your self. Nobody will ever care about what you did to your phone.

  • by brain159 (113897) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @10:56AM (#3992124) Journal
    no, the denial of service happened when they stole your phone, taking the SIM card with it.

    The SIM card (looks like the gold chip element cut out of a smartcard, because that's what it is) contains your subscriber identity. The network will block the SIM the moment you tell them the phone's been stolen, and they'd block the handset too (the IMEI is sent as part of the sign-on process), but people are getting away with hacking the IMEIs...

  • by joto (134244) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @11:04AM (#3992190)
    If you chopped off the chasis number on a car you own, it doesn't hurt anyone but yourself.. Why should you go to jail for that?

    Well, you do hurt someone, namely the society at large (i.e. taxpayers). The reason the number is there is because it makes it easier for law-enforcement to track the car. It can be used to detect theft, fraud, and several other things. And that saves us (the public) a lot of money.

    On the other hand, there's the issue of privacy. We don't want a unique identifiable number on every kind of goods. However, cars do deserve special care, for a number of reasons. First of all, they are pretty expensive, compared to most other things people tend to own, so it's important to track them for that reason. Secondly, they are easy to steal, and easy to transport, so it's more important to be able to identify them than e.g. houses (which can generally be identified by their location). Third, driving a car is not for everybody, it requires a license, for both the driver and the car (a license plate). Having a SSN number for the driver, and a chassis number for the car , helps prevent fraud in this case as well.

    It is possible to be for chassis number legislation, but against IMEI number legislation. Cellphones aren't especially expensive, and doesn't require a special license to use (Hell, in Norway where I live, we you can buy both the phone and a phone-card anonymously (pay cash at the dealer, no registration)).

    On the other hand, personally I don't see much wrong about making it illegal to change IMEI numbers either. It is (I believe) a real problem, and it is unlikely to make any trouble for most anybody (I can't think of a single reason why you would want to do that, and those I've seen so far in the discussion doesn't seem like something anyone would do). And if you had a legitimate reason, I'm sure you could ask for a permit!

  • by shimmin (469139) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @11:10AM (#3992228) Journal
    You can scratch the VIN off your car, but if you do, you can't operate it on the public roadways. You own the car, you don't own the road.

    You can leave your gas running, but if something catches fire, you're liable for arson. You own your house, but you don't own the neighborhood, and you don't own the fire department.

    And in many jurisdictions, you can scan police frequencies. But you can't transmit on them. You don't own the airwaves.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 01, 2002 @11:12AM (#3992251)
    Society has rules, if you don't like them, fucking leave it!

    This is the most asinine, vacuous argument and it amazes me how often it's used.

    "If you don't like America, then leave."

    "If you don't like this job, then leave."

    As a member of this society, I have every bit as much right to decide how it will be run as anyone else. Just because the rules suit you just fine doesn't mean that I have to just give up and leave.

    In addition, some of the rules explicitly state that *I* have the right to work to change them if I don't like them. Those are the rules...in the US they're called Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech and an implicit Freedom of Dissent. I have the right...explicitly stated in YOUR precious rules...to work against things I don't like. I can vote. I can write to Congress-droids. I can try to convince and persuade others.

    Those are the rules and they're EXPLICIT.

    Now, obviously, you don't like those rules. But you can't deny them. So are you prepared to leave???

    I didn't think so.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @11:34AM (#3992442) Homepage

    It's not that hard. The link in the story is to the explanatory notes. The actual bill is here [the-statio...fice.co.uk].

    On a topical note, all the griping about "Why shouldn't I be allowed to..." is just slippery slope hysterics.

    If you actually want to build a 'phone from components, then you can do whatever the hell you like with it, because you're the "manufacturer". However, if you want to buy a 'phone and then screw around with the identifier on it, you're doing something no different from changing the VIN number on a car. There's only one reason why you'd have to do that: to enable fraud. You can argue "But I own it and I just wanna", but in both cases that's simply an argument that principles are always more important than pragmatics and that nothing should be illegal if there's no direct, immediate victim. The law has to strike a balance between freedom and the probability that an act has a criminal purpose. In this case, it's overwhelmingly likely that an actual crime with an actual victim is involved.

    The point of this bill is to enable prosecution of workshops set up to change IMEI's on stolen 'phones. It's a real problem, and it's part of a crime with a real victim, usually on the receiving end of violence. There's actually a very reasonable clause in here that protects equipment that merely could be used to change an IMEI: "The clause makes it clear that the offences are committed only if the person intends to use the equipment or allow it to be used for the purposes of making an unauthorised change to the IMEI number, or knows that the person to whom he supplies it or offers to supply it intends to use it or allow it to be used for that purpose." The prosecution has to show intent, so don't throw a hissy fit just because you've built an IMEI programmer for your self built IMEI 'phone. Not that anyone here has or intends to build such a 'phone.

    Still not seeing it? Consider your next car purchase. You inspect the car, note the VIN number, do an HPI check, and it looks clean. Two weeks later, the police turn up and tell you that you're driving a stolen car and you have to return it to the rightful owner. You're completely out of pocket. This happens all the time. Now, how would you feel if you found that the garage that sold you the car had modified the VIN number and documentation, and that this wasn't illegal? And that it wasn't illegal because of the high principled argument that once they'd bought the car, they could do anything they damn well liked to it? Would you be pissed off? I think so. So, do you think that should it be legal to modify VIN numbers? If not, why should it be legal to modify IMEI numbers?

    This is a balanced, reasonable, useful bill, and all the shrieking and Chicken Littling doesn't make it otherwise.

  • Re:A good thing... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Liquor (189040) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @12:05PM (#3992689) Homepage
    "this law ultimately serves no purpose that couldn't be served by enforcing stiffer penalties on thieves."

    "It's apparent purpose is to present the impression of a government "doing something". With passing redundant laws being a prefered option to something like more police..."
    It WILL have the effect of cutting out the 'third party' number changers (or at least, making them much harder to find). Right now, Alfie can steal a cell phone - but can't sell it to Bertie because the IMEI number will show up on the 'stolen' list. So he take it to Clarence, who, no questions asked, changes the IMEI number, then sells it to Bertie as a legitimate phone that cannot be proven to be the stolen one. Or Alfie can now use the phone himself, since there is no longer an easy way to prove that the phone is the one that was stolen.

    The existence of legal number changing services in various markets (not necessarily public) is essential to the small scale muggers swiping cell phones - the 'adapter kits' and PC software to do this doesn't seem very likely to be actually owned by the individual muggers - anyone with the capability is probably going to sell it - currently legally - as a service instead. (Obviously, the number changing services would make an excellent place for the police to conduct a 'sting' operation.)

    Right now, Clarence can't be convicted of anything because he's only performing a legal service. Making that service illegal puts Clarence out of business, or convicted for running such a business, and it eliminates the believability of the defence that he didn't know the phone was stolen, so he can be convicted as an accessory to theft along with Alfie.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @12:41PM (#3992943)

    Speaking as someone who used to work in the engineering department of a telecommunications company...

    Many telecomms networks are relatively vulnerable to rogue devices. The companies who run the networks put everything they're going to let on their network through amazingly rigorous testing before it's allowed out into the field, because they are aware of this problem, but there is little else they can do to prevent it that is cost effective. The time it took me to make every possible type of call to every possible combination of other units on the network with a new device (which multiplies up to several thousand call types) and verify that every single one worked correctly is negligible compared to the down-time and loss of customer satisfaction caused when a device goes wrong and starts effectively spamming your network and using up all your bandwidth.

    Sometimes, the rogue devices are simply phones that have broken, or a change near a base station that's interfering with things. Other times, it's some smart-ass hobbyist who thought he was being clever, and who takes out a whole region of the network for the morning while an on-call team of engineers sorts out the mess.

    Guess how high an opinion I hold of people who like to tinker with publicly accessible services just to know they can? :-)

  • a simple answer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jtcampbell (199660) on Thursday August 01, 2002 @05:25PM (#3995020) Homepage
    The main problem is that the IMEI numbers are held in re-writeable memory.
    There is no reason why this is neccessary - using a PROM or setting it by cutting links on the silicon with a laser would be just as good, but slightly more expensive. This would make it much harder to change the IMEI, and not require any legislation. Those who have stolen mobile phones have already broken the law, so are they likely to listen to another law that is preventing them from selling the goods that they have stolen?

I tell them to turn to the study of mathematics, for it is only there that they might escape the lusts of the flesh. -- Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain"

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