BLACKLISTING OF STOLEN CELLULAR PHONES

I
have approached the cellular telecommunication service providers, the SAPS and Intelligence Service (NIA) for their views on your request that a provision providing for the compulsory t1blacklisting" of stolen or lost cellular phones be included in the Interception Bill.

The comments received, copies of which are attached for your information, can briefly be summarised as follows:

( a ) SAPS and National Communication Centre
The SAPS and NCC are opposed to compulsory blacklisting. Their main arguments are that-
(i) the blacklisting of cell phones is not conducive for investigations;
(ii) the compulsory blacklisting of stolen cell phones would enlarge the corrupt market for tampering with cell phones which makes the tracing of stolen phones impossible;
(iii) the opinion exists that provisions in the Bill should cater for-(aa) the general protection of public interest which implies protection of public property
and the creation of means that would discourage criminal activity directed at individuals. (In this case the large scale theft of cellular telephones);
(bb) provision of legal ised measures that enable Law Enforcement Agencies to investigate criminal activity discussed, arranged and conducted via various national tejecommunication channels;
(iv) within law enforcement circles it is generally accepted that cellular telephones, especially stolen phones, are utilised in various criminal activities. This phenomenon creates a valuable opportunity for law enforcement to--(aa) detect and investigate general criminal activity (ie stolen phone location); (bb) identify syndicates that are involved in large scale trade in cellular phones as well as
various related criminal activities; and
(v) the Call Related Information (CR1) available from an active cellular telephone is considered invaluable in terms of the real-time geographical movement and location of a criminal that carries the stolen handset.

(b) VODACOM
Vodacom offered the following comment:
(i) Blacklisting ' does not achieve the objective of prevention of use of lost/stolen cellular


"Blacklisting" - a handset that is reported as lost/stolen is registered as blacklisted by the telecommunications service provider (e.g. Vodacom). A local body, the ITC, who generates a reference number, in turn, registers the handset and forward the information to the Equipment Identification Register (El H), who in turn forward the information to the international body, the CEIR.

phones in criminal activities, since blacklisting can easily be circumvented by criminals.
(ii) Blacklisting creates an illegal "black market" for stolen handsets.
(iii) Experience has proven blacklisting to be ineffective.
(iv) The so-called "greylisting "2 is the only feasible option that will support the objectives of the Bill. Greylisting allows the police to still trace the lostistolen handset and apprehend the criminal.
(v) The compulsory greylisting of stolen/lost cellular handsets should be considered for inclusion in the Bill.

MTN
expresses the views that-obliging people to black list phones would in many ways defeat the purposes of the Bill, as
law enforcement would not be able to obtain intercepted calls or communication related information once the phone is black listed;
(ii) the criminal syndicates still reconfigure phones and replace IMEI numbers;
(iii) the black listed phone could still be used on any other network that does not support blacklisting;
(iv) the so-called "greylisting" would also have to be included in this (when a cellphone is 'grey listed' - it remains active for a period of three months before automatically becoming blacklisted ie the policy on the MTN network, this time period may differ from network to network. This gives the SAPS a window of approximately 3 months to try to trace & recover the phone).
MTN
(i)
fad Cell C
Cell C offered the following comment:
(i) Cell C adheres to a policy of "blacklisting" lost or stolen phones and believes that this is the most effective approach to the control of the theft and the subsequent use of stolen cell

After blacklisting, the handset is inactive on all Networks (provided they support blacklisting) and the handset cannot be used again unless it is un-blacklisted by the telecommunications service provider (or it the IMEI number is (illegally) changed). The blacklisted phone is not traceable.

"Greylisting" - a handset that is reported as lost/stolen is registered as greylisted by the telecommunications service provider (e.g. Vodacom). The handset, in turn, is registered by a local body, the ITC, who generates a reference number, and forward the information to the Equipment Identification Register (El H), who in turn forward the information to the international body, the CEIR. After greylisting, the handset remains active and can be used on all Networks, but the user will receive periodic messages to contact their telecommunications service provider, since the phone was reported as lost/stolen. The greylisted phone remains traceable.

phones on cellular networks. Any other approach, for instance that proposed by those suggesting that "greylisting" be the preferred approach to the management of cell phone theft and loss, effectively allowing for the listing of cell phones as stolen or lost but permitting for their use across all licensed networks until such time there is clear indication from statutory policing authorities that a cell phone has been lost or stolen.
(ii) There are clearly loopholes in any law enforcement mechanism of the kind proposed by Cell C. "Blacklisting" would only apply in South Africa and blacklisted phones would be capable of use outside our borders. It is however a first step in what is the major market for cellular telephony in Africa and the controls introduced into this market can over time be introduced into other Southern African markets.
(iii) The more intrepid of the cell phone thieves may copy IMBI numbers off the web and substitute them for blacklisted IMEI's. There may therefore be the need for ancillary legislation, as is currently being considered in the United Kingdom that would address this particular problem.
(iv) There is the added possibility of blacklisting on a global basis.
(v) The correct approach to the matter at this point in time would be to continue with the "blacklisting" of stolen or lost cell phones. "Greylisting" should at best be considered a tool of interception and monitoring by law enforcement agencies, where unbeknown to the users of a stolen or lost phone, a cell phone may continue to be tracked, as it would be still capable of use.


It is clear that there is disagreement among the cellular telecommunication service providers on the issue in question. In the light thereof it is suggested that we do not proceed at this point in time with the inclusion of a provision providing for the compulsory blacklisting greylisting of stolen cellular phones, but that the matter be thoroughly investigated and that the Act, if necessary, be amended at a later stage to address the issue.

Your views on the matter would be appreciated.
Johan

have consulted with our Technical support Service.
From a policing perspective, the black-listing of cell-phones is not conducive for investigations. It enlarges the corrupt market for cell phones
and tampering with the phone and the IMIE number, which makes the identification and tracing of stolen phones impossible. Our information is
that cellular service providers have, in view of problems being experienced
with black-listing, reverted to so-called grey -listing, whereby sms messages are sent on a continuous basis to the stolen phone transmitting the
message that the phone has been stolen after a report in that regard has been received. In short, we are not in favour of compulsory black-listing.

Kind regards PC Jacobs

Dear Sirs

I have been requested to consider the possibility of including a provision, providing for the compulsory "black listing" of lost and stolen cellular phones, in the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of communication related Information Bill

It would be appreciated if you could urgently provide me with your views on
such a provision- (It appears as if some of the cellular service providers
are not in favour of such a provision.)

Regards

Johan labuschagne

Dear Sirs

I have been requested to consider the possibility of including a
provision,
providing for the compulsory "black listing" of lost and stolen
cellular phones, in the Regulation of Interception of Communications and
Provision of Communication-related Information Bill It would be appreciated if you could urgently provide me with your views on such a provision. (It appears as if some of the cellular service
providers are not in favour of such a provision.)
Regards
Johan Labuschagne

NCC Opinion on the "black-listing" of mobile cellular handsets

1. Opinion exists that provisions in the Bill should cater for

The general protection of public interest which implies protection of public property and the creation of means that would discourage criminal activity directed at individuals. (In this case the large scale theft of cellular telephones)
Provision of legalised measures that enable Law Enforcement Agencies to investigate criminal activity discussed, arranged and conducted via various national telecommunication channels.

2. Within law enforcement circles it is generally accepted that cellular telephones, especially stolen phones, are utilised in various criminal activities. This phenomenon creates a valuable opportunity for law enforcement to
detect and investigate general criminal activity (ie stolen phone location) identify syndicates that are involved in large scale trade in cellular phones as well as various related criminal activities.

2.1 The Call Related Information (CR1) available from an active cellular telephone is considered invaluable in terms of the real-time geographical movement and location of a criminal that carries the stolen handset.

3. It is from this point of view that the National Communication Centre (NCC) opposes the "black-listing" of stolen cellular phones.
íThis submission has been prepared in response to a request made to Vodacom to provide comments with regard to the "compulsory blacklisting of cellular phones" for consideration and possible inclusion in the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of communication-related Information Bill.

1. Definitions

For ease of reference, the relevant terms are explained:

"Blacklisting" - a handset that is reported as lost/stolen is registered as blacklisted by the telecommunications service provider (e.g. Vodacom). A local body, the ITC, who generates a reference number, in turn, registers the handset and forward the information to the Equipment Identification Register (EIR), who in turn forward the information to the international body, the CEIR. After blacklisting, the handset is inactive on all Networks (provided they support blacklisting) and the handset cannot be used again unless it is un-blacklisted by the telecommunications service provider (or if the MEl number is (illegally) changed). The blacklisted phone is not traceable.

"Greylisting" - a handset that is reported as lost/stolen is registered as greylisted by the telecommunications service provider (e.g. Vodacom). The handset, in turn, is registered by a local body, the ITC, who generates a reference number, and forward the information to the Equipment Identification Register (EIR), who in turn forward the information to the international body, the CEIR. After greylisting, the handset remains active and can be used on all Networks, but the user will receive periodic messages to contact their telecommunications service provider, since the phone was reported as lost/stolen. The greylisted phone remains traceable.

"IMEI number' - International Mobile Equipment Identification Number; this is the unique international system of identification numbers in respect of all cellular handsets.

2. Executive Summary

In summary, blacklisting does not achieve the objective of prevention of use of lost/stolen cellular phones in criminal activities, since blacklisting can easily be circumvented by criminals by:

changing the IMEI numbers (i.e. the "identity" of the phone), which means the handset cannot be linked to the original IMEI number, and is still available for use;
-using the blacklisted handsets on networks that do not support blacklisting; using and re-selling the blacklisted handsets for its spare parts;
the knowledge that blacklisted phones are inactive and not traceable (and thus a much "safer" option for a criminal than a new cellular handset).

Greylisting on the other hand is preferable, since it allows the police to still trace the lost/stolen handset and apprehend the criminal. Greylisting has further advantages in that Vodacom has a dedicated number, i.e. 082 124 for use by the police and public where they can report and ascertain whether a handset is greylisted. The advantage of this service is that individuals and dealers can check if a phone is greylisted prior to
buying or selling a phone, and the police also use the service during roadblocks and investigations.

3. Vodacom's comments regarding blacklisting and greylisting

(1) Greylisting supports the main objective of Bill
·
The main objective of the Bill, i.e. the interception of communications and provision of communication-related information for the purpose of preventing and solving crime can only be addressed by greylisting of cellular phones, and not blacklisting. It is very important to note that blacklisting makes a cellular phone inactive and the handset cannot be used or traced while blacklisted. This is problematic to law enforcement agencies in tracking and solving crime, and will indeed prevent achievement of the main objective of the Bill.
· Blacklisting prevents handsets to be traceable, since the blacklisted phones are inactive, resulting in the police and even individuals not blacklisting handsets when reporting serious crimes. Rather, they opt for the deactivation of SIM cards in order to trace the handset and the criminal parties.

(2) Blacklisting creates an illegal "black marker' for stolen handsets

·
Blacklisting creates an illegal market for the un-blacklisting of handsets by means of changing th9 IMEI numbers of the blacklisted handsets by unscrupulous "dealers". Currently, the Law does not define the changing of IMEI numbers as a criminal offence. Syndicates stealing handsets do so since they know that "distribution channels" are available where MEl numbers can be changed and stolen handsets can be sold. This knowledge further contributes to increased theft of handsets and use of stolen handsets by criminals in the execution of other criminal activities. Also, where stolen/lost blacklisted handsets are recovered, it cannot be linked to the original IMEI number, which makes it impossible to trace the phone to its rightful owner.

· Blacklisted handsets are also used as spare parts that are re-sold or used to repair other handsets. Greylisted handsets, on the other hand, are not stripped for spare parts, as the handsets are still active.

(3) Blacklisting ineffective since it is not Practiced by all networks

·
Vodacom used to blacklist all handsets reported as lost or stolen, but found that the practice was ineffective since not all networks participate in blacklisting of handsets. In addition, files from CEIR (where international registration of blacklisting occurs) were never delivered to other international networks, with the result that a phone that was blacklisted on the Vodacom network could still be used on another network (i.e. by inserting the other network's SIM card).

Statistics show that very few phones that are blacklisted are ever un-blacklisted, which is un-economic and counter-productive, given the investments made in the purchasing of handsets. A very small percentage of handsets that are blacklisted are un-blacklisted and the remainder of stolen phones are either used as spare parts, taken to international destinations or used/re-sold in the illegal "black market" after their MEl numbers were changed. Please refer to the attached graph in Annexure A that shows comparative numbers for a similar period between blacklisting and greylisting requests.

· Greylisting is more economic, since it allows the handsets to be used as it is active on the cellular network(s). Greylisting handsets have also proven that customers do not change SIM cards as often as in the case of blacklisted handsets. Vodacom greylist handsets since November 2001 when they are reported as lost/stolen.

(5) Voluntary versus compulsory reporting of lost/stolen phone

The current practice of reporting for greylisting purposes is voluntary and it follows that the objective of tracing stolen cellular handsets/ solving of crime by way of greylisitng will not succeed, since not all stolen handsets are greylisted. The compulsory greylisting of stolen handsets should address this problem.

(6) Conclusion

Vodacom submits that greylisting is the only feasible option that will support the objectives of the Bill. Vodacom implemented systems to facilitate the voluntary reporting of lost/stolen phones for greylisting purposes since November 2001, after experience has proven blacklisting to be ineffective.

Vodacom recommends that the compulsory greylisting of stolen/lost cellular handsets be considered for inclusion in the Bill with consideration of the following reasons:
the syndication of crime in South Africa and the use of cellular handsets in crime requires that greylisting be implemented by all three cellular network operators;
-lost/stolen handsets are only traceable with greylisting, since the phone is still active;
-the effective tracing of criminal activities can only occur if the reporting of stolen/handsets for greylisitng be made compulsory. The responsibility for reporting to the telecommunications service provider can only be with the owner/user or any person who was in possession or had control thereof when it was lost or stolen. A stolen phone and SIM card will therefore have to be reported to the relevant network operator (i.e. the operator on whose network the customer has been active immediately before the phone and SIM were stolen), as well as to the police as required by section 41 of the Bill.
Compulsory greylisting is in line with efforts that are underway to mobilise the risk and fraud working group of the African GSM Association (which membership consist of cellular network operators in Africa) to co-ordinate the formation of an African Eguipment Identifications Register (EIR).

Sublect: FW: Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Bill
As regards black listing, I would like to suggest the following:the
purposes of the Bill, as law enforcement would not eble to obtain intercepted calls or communication related information once the phone is black listed.
the criminal synidicates still reconfigure phones and replace
IMFI
numbers.
* obliging people to black list phones would in many ways defeat
the black listed phone could still be used on any other network
that does not support black listing.
* greylisting would also have to be included in this (when a cellphone is 'grey listed' - it remains active for a period of three months
before automatically becoming blacklisted ie the policy on the MTN network, thAs tirre period may differ from network to network. This gives the SAPS a
wirdow of approximately 3 months to try to trace & recover the phone)

Regards

Chis Dobson

Subject: Regulation of Interception of Communications and
Provision of Communication-related Information Bill

Dear Sir/Madam
I have been requested to consider the possibility of including a provision,
providing for the compulsory "black listing" of lost and stolen cellular
phones, in the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision
of communication-related Information Bill
It would be appreciated if you could urgently provide me with

(a) your views on such a provision; and
(b) the correct terminology to be used if such a provision is to be included in the Bill.
> Regards
> Johan Labuschagne

NOTE: This e-mail message and all attachments thereto contain confidential information intended for a specific addressee and purpose. If you are not the addressee (a) you may not disclose, copy, distribute

Subject: FW: Regulation of Interception and Communications and Provision of Communication related Information Bill - Compulsory Blacklisting

Dear Mr. Labuschagne,
I sent you the wrong attachment for which I apologise.

Regards.

Dear Mr. Labuschagne,

Your e-mail of 9 October 2002 and our telephone conversation of 23 October on the above have reference.
Cell C has since it began commercial services adhered to and continues to adhere to a policy of "blacklisting" lost or stolen phones. In practical terms this has meant that where Cell C has been informed by a customer that a cell phone used on the Cell C network has been lost or stolen and all the requisite customer information is to hand (cell phone number, cell phone IMEI and handset number), it has been possible to disable the cell phone's IMEI number, rendering the phone effectively incapable of use on the Cell C network. When a handset is blacklisted on Cell C's network, the ITC database is automatically updated to reflect this. Thereaffer a file transfer is effected by ITC, who manage the blacklisting process, to all mobile operators indicating which cell phones have been blacklisted. The file is updated every two hours.. In this way, the other mobile operators are informed of phones that have been blacklisted and are able to ensure that such handsets are disabled and rendered incapable of use on their networks.


Cell C believes that this is the most effective approach to the control of the theft and the subsequent use of stolen cell phones on cellular networks. Any other approach, for instance that proposed by those suggesting that "greylisting" be the preferred approach to the management of cell phone theft and loss, effectively allowing for the listing of cell phones as stolen or lost but permitting for their use across all licensed networks until such time there is clear indication from statutory policing authorities that a cell phone has been lost or stolen. In a country where crime is endemic, reporting mechanisms weak and poorly enforced and and the administrative burden placed on policing agencies immense, this approach verges on recklessness.

There are clearly loopholes in any law enforcement mechanism of the kind proposed by Cell C. "Blacklisting" would only apply in South Africa and blacklisted phones would be capable of use outside of our borders. It is however a first step in what is the major market for cellular telephony in Africa and the controls introduced into this market can over time be introduced into other Southern African markets. The more intrepid of the cell phone thieves may copy IMEI numbers off the web and substitute them for blacklisted IMEI's. There may therefore be the need for ancillary legislation, as is currently being considered in the United Kingdom that would address this particular problem.

There is the added possibility of blacklisting on a global basis. Where a mobile operator subscribes to CEIR, (a blacklisting database managed by the GSM Association of Mobile Cellular Operators) a blacklisted phone is, in a simi liar manner to the ITC process, disabled and rendered incapable of use on the networks of all cellular network operators who subscribe to CEIR. The vast majority of CEIR subscribers are European, however both Vodacom and MTN are subscribers. Membership of CEIR is however open to all GSM Association member and it is within the bounds of possibility to envisage subscription to membership of CEIR by the members of OSM Africa, (an association of all the GSM operators in Africa).


For now the correct approach to the matter, we believe would be to continue with the "blacklisting" of stolen or lost cell phones. "Greylisting" should at best be considered a tool of interception and monitoring by law enforcement agencies, where unbeknown to the users of a stolen or lost phone, a cell phone may continue to be tracked, as it would be still capable of use.

Find attached the suggested text of a Section of the draft Bill that would address this matter.

Yours Sincerely.
Karabo Motlana

This communication is private, privileged and confidential intended only for the n Any recipient who is not a named addressee Is not entitled to retain, copy, dissem action in reliance upon this communication. If you have received it in error, plea sender immediately and destroy the original.

Blacklisting of mobile cellular handsets
1.1 Definitions
"blacklist" means the barring of a mobile cellular phone, identified by its IMEI number, from use on any GSM network within the territory;

"GSM" means Global System for Mobile communications conforming to the full family of GSM specifications and standards as defined by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute or such other standards and specifications as approved by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa ("the Authority") as applicable to the frequency spectrum bands allocated by the Authority from time to time.

"IMEI" means International Mobile Equipment Identity and is the unique number by which the mobile cellular phone is identified;

"ISDN" means Integrated Services Digital Network";

"MSISDN" means Mobile Station International ISDN Number and is normally identified as a mobile cellular number;

"network" means the mobile cellular telecommunication network established, constructed and operated by a person who provides a mobile cellular telecommunication service;


"territory" means the geographical area of the Republic of South Africa.

2. Provisions

Blacklisting of mobile cellular handsets
2.1 A person who provides a mobile cellular telecommunication service is required to blacklist a mobile cellular phone where it has been:

(a) stolen;
(b) destroyed;
(c) utilised to commit fraud; and or
(d) is reported as lost.
2.1 A person who provides a mobile cellular telecommunication service may remove from the register of blacklisted cellular phones, a cellular phone where it has been:

(a) blacklisted in error; and/or
(b) recovered.