Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has called on telecommunications service providers and the police to implement legal instruments that allow mobile network operators to deactivate and render useless stolen or lost cell phones in the country.

The move to deny network to stolen devices is in terms of Section 5(k) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013.

According to the UCC, smartphones and accessories rank among the most stolen items in Uganda because they are some of the high-value items on the market.

The legal instruments put in place to fight against stolen cell phones will allow for the easing of the process of reporting and identifying stolen or lost devices by establishing an Equipment Identifier, as well as partnering with the Uganda Police to enforce compliance with the legal aspects of phones reported as stolen or lost in Uganda.

Mandates already in place

The UCC emphasised that it is mandated to approve or authenticate communication equipment, apparatus or devices to ensure compliance with internationally accepted standards.

The ICT Minister in early 2020 issued the Uganda Communications (Centralised Equipment Identification Register) Regulations 2019 to “detect and deny communications services operated on an unauthorised or blacklisted communications apparatus.”

The Regulations’ primary objective is “to provide a procedure for reporting the use of unauthorised communications apparatus, and a means to disable the functioning of unauthorised, stolen or blacklisted communications apparatus.”

These regulations were partly implemented and the UCC has called for stakeholders to implement it effectively, saying people use stolen devices to commit crime knowing that it is difficult for law enforcement agencies to track them down.

In a statement recently, the UCC said a stolen communications device like a mobile phone, tablet, router or other communication gadgets with a legitimate International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number can now be blocked from accessing the network if reported.

“Reporting your stolen mobile phone not only protects your mobile money but also stops someone using your phone to commit a crime and incriminating you,” reads the statement.

UCC said when a cell phone is reported to the police, a confirmation note or letter is given which is taken to the operator and the operator will block the cell phone from being used even with another SIM card and ensure that it cannot be used on another network.

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