Economy, Sci & Tech

Kazakhstan Says to Disable Unregistered Mobile Handsets

Under a new law, mobile operators will be obliged to block all mobile phones that have not been registeredUnder a new law, mobile operators will be obliged to block all mobile phones that have not been registered

Under a newly approved law, authorities in Kazakhstan will from this summer have the power to remotely disable mobile telephones that are not registered in a state database.

Officials say the measure has been adopted as part of the fight against terrorism which continues to affect the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) country, according to

Major Kazakh mobile phone service operators Kcell and Beeline say that since the start of the year, the Information and Communications Ministry has been actively working on creating a register of International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers, which are unique to every mobile device. 

Under a new law, mobile operators will be required to block all mobile phones that have not been registered. The rule on registration will come into force on July 1. news website reported that the Information Ministry formed a working group together with law enforcement and mobile phone service provider representatives to draw up specific rules on registration in the coming months. Although details have not been worked out to date, the law is already on the books.

Last April, the Kazakh General Prosecutor’s Office signed a memorandum of cooperation with the interior ministry and mobile operators on disabling stolen mobile phones. 

The measure was prompted by figures that show almost 60,000 mobile phones thefts are reported in Kazakhstan every year. Of that number hardly 2,500 handsets are returned to their owners.

Iran has also said it intends to follow suit to control unregistered mobile phones in the country. 

In July 2016, the Iranian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology announced that it would force all phone owners to register their phones with the new database. 

However, after at least two attempts the ministry quietly mothballed the plan due to the large numbers of contraband phones in the country. 

The ministry also said the plan would discourage the smuggling of Apple iPhones. It also warned that unregistered handsets would be disconnected. So far no action has been taken. 

IMEI numbers are distinct from SIM cards and can be used in some cases to trace the whereabouts of stolen phones and, if necessary, block them. 

Network operators are able to determine the specific models and IMEI codes of their customers’ phones once calls are made.


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