Stolen cellphones in US will soon become useless
FCC officials said the centralised database will allow consumers to notify their wireless provider of a theft. -Reuters
WASHINGTON - United States wireless carriers representing 90 per cent of subscribers will announce the creation of a database of unique cellphone IDs to help prevent theft and re-activation of stolen or lost devices, which often contain sensitive personal data.
The shared database will be up and running in the US in six months, and the carriers plan to expand it globally over 18 months, said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which along with the carriers will unveil the scheme.
FCC officials said the centralised database will allow consumers to notify their wireless provider of a theft and, in turn, their provider will block the device from being used again.
The booming demand for mobile devices like Apple's iPad tablet and Google's suite of Android-powered smartphones has been coupled with a similar boom in crime involving these devices.
Mobile phones were taken in 54 per cent more robberies last year in Washington than in 2007, and are targeted in 38 per cent of all robberies in the capital, FCC officials said.
Similar statistics ring true in New York, Philadelphia and other major cities, the FCC reported, with many instances leading to serious injury or death.
The FCC will also announce industry plans to better educate consumers on how to combat cellphone and data theft.
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