GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
DEPARTMENT OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS
STARRED QUESTION NO. 534
ANSWERED ON MAY 3, 2013
Software for Changing/Duplicating International Mobile Equipment Identity
*534. SHRI RAJEEV CHANDRASEKHAR:
Will the Minister of COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY be pleased to state:
(a) whether Government is aware of recent media reports about a certain software that is embedded in some of the mobiles currently being used in the Indian market, that can change or duplicate the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), a number which is unique to each phone;
(b) if so, whether Government proposes to ban this software; and
(c) if not, the reasons therefor and the steps proposed to be taken to address this issue which is a threat to national security?
THE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
(SHRI KAPIL SIBAL)
(a) to (c) A Statement is laid on the Table of the House.
STATEMENT TO BE LAID ON THE TABLE OF THE RAJYA SABHA IN RESPECT OF PARTS (a) TO (c) OF RAJYA SABHA STARRED QUESTION NO. 534 FOR 3RD MAY, 2013 REGARDING "SOFTWARE FOR CHANGING/DUPLICATING IMEI NUMBER"
(a) Incidences have been reported of changing International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of mobile phones with the help of softwares available in market. However, there is no specific incidence reported about any software that is embedded in some of the mobiles currently being used in the Indian market that can change IMEI.
(b) & (c) There is no provision to ban any specific software in either Indian Telegraph Act or any other Act. Even if it is decided to incorporate such provisions, it may not yield any result, since such software can be renamed and modified any time. However, anybody indulging in this illegal activity can be dealt under Section 25 of Indian Telegraph Act' 1885 which deals with intentionally damaging or tempering with telegraphs and mobile handset is a part of telegraph. Further, the change of IMEI number of a mobile phone is a kind of unauthorized software modification that tantamount to tampering of computer source code which is a punishable office under section 65 of Information Technology Act, 2000. Further, to deal with the issue of non-genuine/duplicate IMEI, Government has taken the following steps:
(i) The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has issued a notification No. 14/2009-2014 dated 14th Oct' 2009 that import of ' Mobile Handsets' classified under ITC (HS) code ' 8517' without International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) Number or with all zeroes IMEI is prohibited with immediate effect. In the same notification, import of CDMA mobile phones (classified under ITC (HS) '8517' without Electronic Serial Number (ESN) / Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) or with all zeroes as ESN /MEID is prohibited with immediate effect.
(ii) The instructions have been issued by DoT vide letter dated 27.11.2009 directing all the telecom service providers that calls from mobile handsets with any IMEI number which is not available in the latest updated IMEI database of GSMA or without IMEI or all ' Zero' as IMEI should not be processed and must be rejected with effect from 30.11.2009