Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Mobile Equipment National Database

If you’re a Brit and you own a mobile phone, laptop computer, iPod/music player, digital camera, PDA or pretty much any sort of mobile electronic equipment, then you may be interested to know about the Mobile Equipment National Database. You register with the site, and then add the details and serial numbers of your equipment to your account.
Should those items be stolen from you and then recovered, the police can use the database to identify you as the owner and return them to you. Furthermore, if you have a mobile phone, you can use the IMEI (serial) number to have the phone blocked from UK networks so that it becomes useless to whoever stole it.
This is linked with a new law which would outlaw the reprogramming of IMEI numbers – with some phones, it is possible to change the serial number to get around the blocks; this law will make the practice illegal. It is not, as some media outlets have implied, a law to ban phone unlocking, the practice of unlocking a GSM phone so that it works on all networks, since that does not change the IMEI number.

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