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India to cut off 25 million mobile phones

Mobile phone
Your IMEI's not down, you're not coming in...

Imagine if 25 million mobile phones were suddenly cut off for good here in the UK, the US or any other part of the Western world – there would be uproar. Still, that's what the Indian government is planning to do there next month as part of a so-called security move.

The telecoms ministry of India believes that around 25 million of the country's 315 million mobile phones have fake IMEI numbers or none at all.

Mumbai factor

Without the hardwired codes that are used to identify individual handsets, tracking and stopping illegal activities becomes that much harder. Last month's Mumbai attacks are seen as a key factor in the move.

Consequently, the government department is telling phone operators to disconnect all mobiles without proper IMEIs from 6 January next year.

Grey market

An official letter to phone providers said: "In the interest of national security, all … providers … are hereby directed to make provisions … so that calls without IMEI or with IMEI consisting of all zeroes are not processed or [are] rejected."

Of course, the fact that local operators are losing out on handset sales to IMEI-free knock-offs from China is absolutely nothing to do with the plan.