However the spin and hype surrounding the issue is not welcome.
Stolen mobiles 'will be blocked'
It is hoped that the pledge will put people off buying stolen phones
Around 80% of mobile phones will be blocked on all five UK networks within 48 hours of being reported stolen in future, industry leaders have pledged.
Why did the BBC (and the other mainstream media) not bother to ask why this has not already happened ?
This was all promised back in 2002, i.e. 4 years ago, when the Home Office rammed through the useless
Mobile Telephones (Re-programming) Act 2002 which made it a criminal offence to re-programme a mobile phone handset's International Mobile Equipment Idenifier (IMEI), and controversially, even made possession of "dual use" equipment i.e. a computer and a mobile phone serial or USB cable, a criminal offence.
There is also nothing new about the UK Shared Equipment Identity Register (UKSEIR). This "new shared database set up by all UK mobile phone operators and the Global System for Mobiles Association" was also announced as being operational back in 2002
All of this has had a less than zero effect on "street crime"
A Metropolitan Police Authority report concluded in 2003, that in London, which is where most such street muggings involving mobile phones occur, the effect of the legislation, and of the alleged "national stolen phone blacklist database" was that it "cannot be shown to have impacted on street crime levels.":
Impact of the legislation on re-programming mobile phones
15. The Mobile Telephones (Re-programming) Act 2002 came into force on October 4 2002 and makes offences of: changing, without the authorisation of the manufacturer, the unique identifying characteristic of a mobile phone – the IMEI number; and possessing, supplying or offering to supply the necessary equipment with the intent to use it for re-programming mobile phones.
16. Performance with regards to street crime offences involving only mobile phones for the performance year to date compared with the corresponding period of the previous year shows a slight reduction of 0.6%. This is very close to the overall 1.4% reduction and therefore the introduction of this legislation cannot be shown to have impacted on street crime levels.
17. The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit (NMPCU) went ‘live’ on Monday 15th September 2003. Whilst based in London, the unit has a national perspective and consist of stakeholders from key law enforcement agencies, the telecommunication industry and other partners. The unit will work in partnership to combat those that steal, handle, reprogram and export mobile phones.
Even the Home Office's figures (which cannot, of course be trusted not to have been spun and massaged for political ends) have to admit that there has been an actual increase in street muggings involving mobile phones and MP3 players.
So why is today's initiative needed, with its promise to "achieve" a target of "80%" of stolen mobile phones to be blacklisted within "48 hours" ? Why has this not already been happening since 2002 ?
Presumably because there have been no prosecutions, no financial sanctions, no threats by Ofcom to revoke their licences against the Mobile Network Operators, who are obviously failing to do what they promised.
It seems that neither the Home Office nor Ofcom ("the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.") has bothered to check on how well this supposed "stolen phone database" has worked in practice over the last 4 years !
Just as back in 2002, this MICAF initiative does nothing to prevent stolen mobile phones from being exported overseas, and having their IMEIs re-programmed there.
Another issue which is not reported as being addressed by today's initiative (there is a passing mention of it in the press release), is the large number of Mobile Phones which are falsely reported as stolen, for petty insurance fraud purposes, or simply so that the owners can be issued with a spiffing new model.
Remember that even if a mobile phone is "worthless" to a mugger in terms of its market value, it would still be worth stealing from the victim in order to prevent it being used to call the police.
Where are the safeguards to prevent "denial of service" attacks on phones which have not, in fact been stolen ?
Why isn't the mainstream media picking up on obvious points like these, instead of just re-cycling the press release without critical thought or analysis ?