U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today asked the Federal Communications Commission to identify solutions that prevent wireless providers from reactivating stolen phones, which he believes will crack down on violent cell phone robberies.
Pryor said tens of thousands of cell phones are stolen each year, with many incidents involving violent robberies where criminals can quickly resell phones on the black market to make an easy profit. Criminals are able to profit from these crimes because service providers are unable to differentiate between stolen and legitimate phones. According to a recent investigation by NBC's Today Show, a new technology is now available that would allow manufacturers and wireless providers to identify stolen phones and prohibit reactivation of service.
Pryor's letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski can be found below:
March 26, 2012
The Honorable Julius Genachowski
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
Dear Chairman Genachowski:
I write to express my concern about the recent spate of cell phone thefts around the country and to inquire about Federal Communications Commission (FCC) actions or options under consideration to deter these crimes.
As you know, in recent months crimes involving smart phone theft have increased exponentially. These crimes vary but generally involve violent robberies of individuals' cell phone and subsequent resale of the stolen phones on the black market. Criminals are able to profit from these robberies because service providers are unable to differentiate between stolen and legitimate phones. Consequently, black market purchasers can reactivate the phones, purchase service and operate them normally.. In just the past year there have been numerous instances of this type of crime across the country.
Last week, the Today Show highlighted a potential solution to the problem: the incorporation of technology within the phones that would enable manufactures and wireless providers to identify stolen phones and prohibit the reactivation of service phones. Several countries have adopted this approach in order to deter phone theft. Although seemingly simple, I have concerns about the privacy implications of requiring tracking technology on phones. As I consider whether legislation is necessary to prevent these crimes, I would appreciate a detailed delineation of your views on the feasibility of this approach, as well as your assessment of alternative approaches to deterring cell phone theft.
Thank you for taking the time to look into this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.