3GSM: Social responsibility - mobile's next big challenge

And that means addressing theft, porn, spam, scams and more...
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

And that means addressing theft, porn, spam, scams and more...

One of the main industry bodies in mobile communications has called on the industry to fight handset crime more strongly and in general take better care of end users.

Fresh from the euphoria of last week announcing the billionth GSM handset - a month earlier than expected and well ahead of any other standard's shipments - the GSM Association (GSMA) has announced widespread backing for a centralised scheme that can uniquely identify each phone and keep track of and disable those reported as stolen.

Vendors Alcatel, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic, Sagem, Siemens and Sony Ericsson have agreed to make more secure each handset's IMEI tag, which stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. These will then be linked to an enhanced Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) when reported stolen anywhere in the world.

It is estimated by police that 49 per cent of London street crime involves a mobile phone and the idea of this latest push is to make handset theft pointless. The GSMA praised progress by operators in the UK and called on the rest of the world to follow the country's lead.

O2 UK said in a statement that it has already barred some 1.2 million terminals by working with IMEI numbers and the central database.

In private talks at this week's 3GSM World Congress event European Commissioner Erkki Liikanen is reported to have leant his support to such efforts. The EU recognises handset theft is a growing problem in member states including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

However, the GSMA went on to support measures to tackle other issues for end users, such as inappropriate content for minors as well as potential viruses and spam. On the subject of mobile malware, GSMA CEO Rob Conway said his organisation doesn't yet have the answers.

Recent weeks have seen hype about mobile spam, though few users are thought to have found it a big problem as yet.

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