Philippine Bill to kill mobile handset theft

Here’s a bill in the Philippine Congress that’s no brainer. I assume the software needed to disable mobile handsets already exists in all mobile hansets. In Australia, telco providers can block the use of a stolen or lost mobile handset by using the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) code for this purpose. Let’s hope this bill becomes a law as soon as possible to help end the rampant theft of mobile handsets.

From BusinessWorld Philippines

October 05, 2014

Gov’t backs bill that will make stolen mobile phones useless

THE PHILIPPINES has backed proposed legislation that requires mobile phone companies to install software that will disable stolen handhelds.

Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila M. De Lima said there are no legal or constitutional objections to House Bill (HB) No. 4511 and House Resolution No. 93, which is currently pending at the House of Representatives.

The proposed bill requires all network service providers to pre-install “kill switch” software on all cellphones, which would erase all saved data and disable stolen phones.

“… [T]he proposed bill as this is within the purview of what is embodied in Article II on the Declaration of Principles and State Policies, of the 1987 Constitution, particularly Section 5 thereof, which promotes the maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty and property, the promotion of the general welfare being essential for the enjoyment of all the people,” Ms. De Lima said in a legal opinion, in response to a letter from Rizal Rep. Joel Roy R. Duavit (1st district), chairman of the House committee on information and communications technology.

HB No. 4511 or “An Act Requiring All Cellphone Network Service Providers to Equip All Mobile Phones They Provide to Postpaid Users With a ‘Kill-Switch’ Software to Enhance Security and Privacy of Their Customers,” is authored by Ang Mata’y Alagaan party-list Rep. Lorna Q. Velasco.

In the bill’s explanatory note, Ms. Velasco said that the bill, once enacted, would help address security and privacy concerns that arise from cellphone theft.

“The large number of cellphones, unfortunately, gives rise to high incidents of crime involving theft and robbery. These criminal acts not only endanger the physical safety of victims but also compromise the security of the personal and private information stored in the stolen devices’ memories.”

Ms. De Lima also welcomed the bill, saying that such “safety mechanism ensures that data or information contained in the mobile phones of the owners whose units were stolen are protected from being used by unscrupulous individuals.”

In the proposed bill, the software to be installed will allow network service providers to remotely and permanently disable the cellphone, by erasing all data and private information in cellphones reported to be stolen.

Such actions would then render the device “useless for future use.”

The remote disabling of the mobile phone unit will only be upon the request of the subscriber after proper verification.

Ms. De Lima, however, said the DoJ has some reservations as to the method of installing the software.

“This Department has reservations as to the method of pre-installing the ‘kill switch’ software considering that ‘hackers’ may be able to gain access on the ‘kill message’ that would be installed in these mobile phones,” she said.

Meanwhile, House Resolution No. 93 or “A Resolution Urging the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Telecommunication Service Providers To Look Into The Feasibility of Enforcing A “Kill Switch” For Mobile Phones And Other Devices In Order To Improve The Current Procedure of Disabling Stolen, Lost Or Missing Mobile Phones To Prevent Mobile Phone Theft And Other Devices” was introduced by Ako Bicol party-list group Rep. Christopher S. Co and Joel M. Batocabe.

Ms. De Lima said there is no legal objection to the proposal and called on the NTC to conduct an in-depth study as to the feasibility of the proposed scheme.

INSURANCE FOR MOBILE PHONES
Secretary De Lima has also expressed support for another House bill which seeks to require mobile service providers to offer mobile phone insurance to cut costs that consumers bear when they lose their mobile phones, which also includes tablets.

HB No. 4303 or “An Act Mandating Mobile Phone Network Service Providers to Offer Insurance for Mobile Phones” is authored by Parañaque Rep. Eric L. Olivarez.

Ms. De Lima, however, said that the bill “merely provides an option for the consumer to avail of the insurance policy.”

She also said that the DoJ has reservations with regard to the insurance claims process.

“The insurance companies may impose conditions that would prevent the consumers in making rightful claims,” she noted.

“We suggest that the appropriate measures be observed by both National Telecommunications Commission and Insurance Commission to ensure the objectives of this proposed bill be met,” she added.

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Gov’t backs bill that will make stolen mobile phones useless&id=95575

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