FG to track Phone users, orders submission of device’s ID ‘IMEI’

By AdvocateNews on 21/05/2021

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Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,, Isa Pantami
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,, Isa Pantami

• Nigerian Mobile phone users kick

Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) has said Nigerians will have to submit their International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of their phones to the commission from July this year.

NCC, an agency under Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, said all details relating to active mobile phones in Nigeria will be obtained from telecom networks and warehoused under a newly-established Device Management System (DMS).

Reports said President Muhammadu Buhari had given approval for the agency to implement the project, which would see government obtain and store International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of Nigerians’ mobile phones.

The commission disclosed that network providers will be required to cross-check all phones International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) and status on a proposed Centralized Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) otherwise known as Device Management System (DMS) before allowing a device to become active on their network.

The directive is contained in the Revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration published by the Commission.

It claimed the move was to curtail the counterfeit mobile phone market, discourage mobile, phone theft, enhance National Security, protect consumer interest, increase revenue generation for the government, reduce rate of kidnapping, mitigate the use of stolen phones for crime, and facilitate blocking or tracing of stolen mobile phones and other smart devices.

The policy statement read in part; “To achieve this, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) would be responsible for the implementation and management of the DMS to achieve the policy objectives.

“The implementation of a Centralized Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) otherwise known as Device Management System (DMS) will serve as a repository for keeping records of all registered mobile phones’ International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) and owners of such devices.

“IMEIs that have been reported as either stolen or illegal will be shared through the DMS to all the operators and service providers. The purpose is to ensure that such devices do not work even if different SIM Cards are inserted in those devices”.

It said; “DMS will also provide access to all operators to cross-check the IMEIs and their status before allowing a device to become active on their network.

“Furthermore, registered mobile phone technicians will also be provided with an interface to check IMEIs and ensure it has not been reported as stolen or illegal before they render their technical services”.

The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is an international identity number used to uniquely identify a mobile phone. The 15-digit IMEI number is an electronic fingerprint transmitted every time a phone is used, which reveals the identity of the mobile handset.

Meanwhile, many Nigerians have kicked against the move, describing it as a deliberate move to curb freedom of speech and compromise the secrecy of the citizen’s personal information.

Many of them made references to a report last year which stated that Nigeria’s Defence Intelligence Agency had acquired equipment that it can use to spy on its citizens’ calls and text messages.

The report attributed to a research by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which researches digital surveillance, security, privacy and accountability.

The report, titled Running in Circles: Uncovering the Clients of Cyber-espionage Firm Circles, said a telecom surveillance company by the name of Circles has been helping state security apparatuses across 25 countries, including Nigeria, to spy on the communications of opposition figures, journalists, and protesters.

“We already know where you people are going. Last year you acquired tool to spy on citizens, few months later you ask citizens to submit IMEI. BOKO HARAM GOVT!,” Olabode with Twitter handle @edwardbode.

“The gimmick NCC is trying to play with IMEI is even against what was stated in Section 37 of 1999 constitution as crooked as it is,” wrote Ayemojubar with handle @ayemojubar.

Ayemojubar made reference to Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria which states; “The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected.”

He also wrote in another tweet; “Truth you need to know about your IMEI. This is enough proof why you shouldn’t submit your IMEC to NCC and Isa Pantami even if heaven will fall.”

In a question and answer on a thread, someone wrote that; “Your phone can be hacked by police using your phone IMEI NUMBER.

“They use a device called a Stingray. It’s made by a company called the Harris corporation based in Florida and is marketed as a mobile cell-site simulator. In other words, it’s a device that makes mobile phones think that it is a cell tower, thereby allowing law enforcement to listen to your calls, read your text messages.

“They can use your phones on board camera and microphone to listen to and videotape you without your knowledge.”

Also, a device IMEI can be used to shut a stone phone down or block its SIM, also it can be used to track its whereabouts in some cases.

Posted 21/05/2021 4:47:35 PM


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