Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Schumer Looks To Increase Penalties For Stolen Cellphone Hacks Schumer Looks To Increase Penalties For Stolen Cellphone Hacks

This ad will end in seconds
Close X

Want access to this content? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation


Schumer Looks To Increase Penalties For Stolen Cellphone Hacks

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has found a way to make a federal case out of the rampant problem of mobile device theft. The Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act of 2012, introduced on Wednesday, would make altering a stolen cellphone's unique identification number a crime punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years.

The bill is meant to work in harmony with an initiative of the Federal Communications Commission and leading mobile carriers. They announced in April a plan to create and maintain a list of the unique identifiers of stolen cellphones, in order to make sure those devices can't be active on any network.

"Our goal is to make a stolen cellphone as worthless as an empty wallet," Schumer said at the time.

Changing a phone's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number isn't simply a matter of unlocking the device from a specific carrier, jailbreaking it or getting root access to the operating system. Changing a phone's IMEI number is more akin to changing a serial number -- something that is done to render the device untraceable.The practice has been illegal in the United Kingdom since 2002.

CTIA President Steve Largent released a statement in support of the bill, and the group also plans to help administer the national database of blacklisted IMEI numbers.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories


Rick, Executive Director for Policy

Concise coverage of everything I wish I had hours to read about."

Chuck, Graduate Student

The day's action in one quick read."

Stacy, Director of Communications

I find them informative and appreciate the daily news updates and enjoy the humor as well."

Richard, VP of Government Affairs

Chock full of usable information on today's issues. "

Michael, Executive Director

Sign up form for the newsletter