U.S. carriers partner with FCC to track stolen cell phones

The four major wireless providers in the United States have partnered with the Federal Communications Commission in an effort to curb cell phone theft, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. The wireless companies will build a central database of stolen cell phones, which will track phones that are reported as lost or stolen and deny them voice and data service. The goal of the database is to reduce crime by making it very difficult to use a stolen device. Verizon Wireless and Sprint currently block phones that are reported stolen from being reactivated. AT&T and T-Mobile do not, although all four carriers have now agreed to be part of the new database. Members of Congress are also expected to propose legislation to make it a crime to alter a cell phone’s unique identification number, according to the report. Similar stolen-phone databases are already in place in the U.K., Germany, France and Australia. While crime hasn’t completely stopped, the number of incidents has apparently declined. Carriers will roll out individual databases within six months that will be centralized over a 12-month period, with smaller regional wireless providers expected to join the database over the next two years.

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