India now empowers citizens to track and block lost and stolen mobile phones through a newly launched government-run portal called the Sanchar Saathi. The Sanchar Saathi Portal will also allow people to check the genuineness of a used device before buying.
CEIR – first leg of the Sanchar Saathi portal
“The first leg of the Sanchar Saathi portal is CEIR (Central Equipment Identity Register). If you lose your mobile phone, then you can visit this portal. There will be some identity verification, the undertaking requirement. Immediately after, this portal will interact with law enforcement agencies and telecom service providers and block your lost mobile phone,” Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said.
C-DoT, a technology development arm under the Department of Telecom, has developed the new service. The C-DOT has been piloting the technology in Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and North East.
The portal runs on the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR), enabling people to deactivate their phones even if the new SIM card has been inserted as the device is tracked through its unique identification number (IMEI).
CEIR – powered by artificial intelligence
The CEIR-based portal, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), will also allow a mobile user to know if more connections are taken on his or her name fraudulently, and the same can be blocked.
The newly launched portal will also have a system to check how many mobile connections a user has taken.
Able to track mobile phones
Indian telecom operators and the CEIR system will have visibility into the IMEI number of the device and the mobile number linked to it, as per the minister.
“With the portal, any phone connection taken in your name across the country will be found. For example, if somebody has taken a connection in your name in Jamtara, you can get it blocked,” the minister said.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said that this citizen-centric initiative will go a long way in empowering mobile subscribers across the country and ensuring the safety and security of their mobile devices.”
COAI, which represents Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, said the various modules of the portal will help in reducing the incidents of mobile phone thefts and detect anomalies to help identify and prevent misuse/fraud.
“Citizens will be able to know the mobile connections issued in their name, get unrequired connections disconnected, block/trace lost mobile phones and check the genuineness of devices while buying a new/old mobile phone,” COAI added.
Fraudulent accounts deactivated
The minister also informed that if any account has been notified as fraud, its corresponding WhatsApp account will be deactivated. “We have actively engaged with WhatsApp, and they have agreed that customer safety is most important. All the OTT platforms have cooperated and are on board to deregister users who have been detected as fraud users.”
The Indian government is also collaborating with the international telecommunication union (ITU) to figure out ways to stop the menace of spam calls on OTT platforms from international numbers.
The minister said it’s a big concern, and some harsh decisions must be made.
The C-DoT has already analysed 870 million mobile connections using an AI solution, of which 4 million suspected mobile numbers were identified, while 3.6 million were deactivated.
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