Mobile Telephone Industry Welcomes New ‘Rebirthing’ Law

The Australian mobile telecommunications industry welcomes legislation passed by the Senate recently, making it a criminal offence to “rebirth” stolen mobile phones by illegally modifying a phone’s electronic serial number.

The CEO of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), Graham Chalker, said the new law, which could jail people for up to two years for “rebirthing” stolen mobile phones, sends a strong signal to thieves and gives consumers more protection.

The Senate passed the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Telecommunications Offences and other Measures) Bill (No.2) 2004 last night.

Mr Chalker said: “The mobile telecommunications industry welcomes this new law. The Government has taken a strong step in anti-theft measures to combat people stealing mobile phones.”

The new law comes as AMTA has introduced a new online service giving consumers a quick and easy way to check on the status of their mobile phone.

Mr Chalker said the new online inquiry service makes it convenient for consumers and second-hand sellers to check if a mobile telephone has been reported lost or stolen and blocked from use by the network carriers.

“People in the market to buy a second-hand phone through a second-hand dealer or over the internet will be able to check at if it has been reported lost or stolen and has been blocked from use by the network carriers,” he said.

Almost 12 months ago, the Australian mobile telephone industry introduced a world-first, anti-theft technology which blocks lost or stolen mobile phones by using each phone’s unique 15-digit electronic serial number, known as the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.

Mr Chalker said: “Nearly 165,000 mobiles have been blocked in the nine months since the program started.”

He said it was also important for consumers not to leave their mobiles in insecure areas. About half of the mobile telephones stolen in Australia are taken from motor vehicles.