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Software being developed for police to block smartphones – DAWN.com

KARACHI: A software programme is being developed to register smartphones along with subscriber identity module (SIM) so that whenever a complaint is received about its loss or theft, that phone also gets blocked, it emerged on Tuesday.

The move was discussed at a meeting of law-enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, mobile phone companies and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority representatives.

Chaired by Sindh IG A.D. Khowaja and attended by Karachi police chief Mushtaq Maher and Zubair Habib of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) among others, the meeting discussed the pros and cons of the new technology being developed by a local company.

Just a week ago, the Sindh police authorities had tasked the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) with fighting street crimes besides heinous crimes. The CPLC had earlier this month shared its findings with the media identifying 60 places in the metropolis where the incidents of street crime — particularly snatching of mobile phones — had increased alarmingly.

According to a statement issued after the meeting, the software associated with GSM, Android and other cellular phone technologies would be ready soon. “Once the software is ready, with the insertion of SIM card, the said mobile phone’s IMEI number will be registered. In case of theft or loss, when the subscriber will block the SIM, the mobile phone will also be blocked automatically.

“The software would help make the mobile phone’s recovery quite easy,” said the statement citing discussions at the meeting.

It seems that the police chief personally took up the task against street crime in Karachi after recent reports and data sent ripples through the power corridors. According to the CPLC findings, the number of street crime incidents surged in the last quarter of 2016. A total of 34,137 mobile phones were snatched or stolen across the city last year. After the regular police failed to curb growing street crime, the SIU was tasked with the job last week.

Also, the station house officers (SHOs) were warned that they could face suspension and transfer if the law and order situation in their areas worsened.

“The recent plan to [use] technology [in the] fight against street crime is also the initiative of the Sindh police,” said a senior officer who attended the meeting. “But it’s just a beginning. Once the software is ready we need proper legislation or legal cover to bind mobile phone users to get their phones registered. And that registration process will not be lethargic or lengthy. It will be online or through some mobile phone application.”

Once the mobile phone user was registered, he said, that particular phone would come under a database and whenever the SIM card being used in that phone was blocked for any reason that phone would also be blocked.

The statement added that the Sindh IGP also “issued directives to all stakeholders to complete the framework soon so that the software could be made use of at the earliest. He asked the Pakistan Customs and the Intelligence Bureau, too, for effective check of the smuggling of snatched and stolen mobile phones.”

Published in Dawn January 18th, 2017

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