Govt may ban import of Chinese phones without IMEI tag

Mobiles phones without International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number are considered a grave security threat and concerns had been raised over their usage after terrorist attacks like the one in Mumbai in November last year.

Despite the security threat, no government agency has till now approached the Commerce Ministry for a ban on import of such phones from China, a top source said on Thursday.

"Neither Home Ministry nor telecom companies have written to the Commerce Ministry seeking such a ban," the source said.

The Commerce Ministry can temporarily suspend import of such phones and make it mandatory for the importer to comply with IMEI requirement.

The Home Ministry, the source said, may soon write to the Commerce Ministry on the issue.

There are about 250 lakh Chinese handsets that are being used by consumers in the country. GSM service providers, including Airtel and Vodafone, have already said that they would deny connectivity to cell phones without IMEI number.

Concerned over the national security, the Department of Telecommunications had earlier asked operators to disconnect services to handset that does not have an IMEI number. IMEI is a 15-digit code which appears on the operator's network whenever a call is made.

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