Exclusive: FCC, CTIA push against stolen phones went nowhere

A draft plan might have made it harder to resell stolen phones, if it had gone into place

The STOPS plan

The STOPS plan

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the CTIA, a lobbying group for the wireless industry, discussed a major initiative last year that could have significantly cracked down on trading in stolen phones, but the plan appears to have gone nowhere.

A draft of the initiative, called STOPS, describes it as "a multi-stakeholder initiative" intended to "stamp out the illegal secondary market for smartphones and other mobile devices." The document, dated Aug. 15, 2013, was obtained by IDG News Service through a public records request.

STOPS was due to begin last September with a campaign to teach consumers how to avoid buying a stolen phone. That was to be followed in November with the promotion of software that could remotely wipe lost or stolen handsets and display a "stolen phone" message on the screen.

Perhaps the biggest step was to happen last month, when third parties and law enforcement would be able to run a phone's unique IMEI identification number against a database of phones operated by wireless carriers.

Another system would act as a kind of Carfax service for phones, allowing people to verify a used phone hadn't been flagged as stolen. The plan was to conclude later this year with a one-stop website where "all the necessary reports" could be filed when a phone is stolen.

Today, eight months after the document was drafted and seven months after the program was due to get underway, it appears to have gone nowhere.

A spokesman for the FCC wouldn't comment on the record about the STOPS document or answer specific questions on the status of the plan. "Commission staff is in regular contact with carriers and law enforcement about this important area of concern and STOPS is part of that process, which is ongoing," the spokesman said.

The CTIA didn't return a request for comment.

During the same period, pressure has been building on the industry to do something about the growing problem of violent smartphone theft.

Wireless carriers and phone makers have mostly dragged their feet, although the threat of legislation on the horizon appears to have them moving. For example, the CTIA long opposed the installation of "kill-switch" software on phones but changed its stance ahead of a recent California Senate vote on a mandated kill switch.

The California law, SB962, passed the state Senate last week and is now in the hands of the assembly. If it passes, it will require a software kill-switch on all phones sold and manufactured in California from July next year.

The bill has received backing from law enforcement officials across the state including San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who was asked for his reaction to the STOPS draft plan discussed by the FCC and CTIA.

"These are steps that can be taken right now to undermine the black market for stolen devices while more effective technological solutions make their way to market," he said.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphoneslegalconsumer electronicsctiaCriminalU.S. Federal Communications Commission

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?