Canada's wireless mobile system, despite its criticisms of high costs, is generally on the forefront of technology and finding ways to protect their citizens. They have some of the strictest laws and fines against distracted driving in the world. The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) is another such organization that is the advocacy group that works with Rogers, Telus, Bell, Eastlink, Videotron, SaskTel, Wind and MTS. Together, back in 2013, they launched a National Cellphone Blacklist in an effort to decrease the number of stolen smartphones in Canada. According to their latest numbers, devices reported lost or stolen have decreased from 606,274 in 2014 to 444,196 in 2015 – a 27-percent drop.
The way their blacklist works is whenever a new smartphone is activated in Canada, that IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) number is recorded. Anytime a smartphone is reported lost or stolen, the carrier adds that IMEI number to the blacklist and this prevents that device from being activated on any of the collective carriers. The numbers recorded are only of the phones actually reported, so those figures may be lower than actual totals. Another upswing to all of this, is the number of times the lookup tool is being used is also increasing. This means that more Canadians are checking to see if a smartphone is stolen before they make a purchase on a website that sells phone. The lookup number increased from 522,207 in 2014 to 625,147 in 2015…another healthy increase. The CWTA said that they will continue to take stolen devices very seriously and they will explore new ways to help law enforcement in reducing theft.
What is so amazing is how many people lose their devices and have to report it missing to add their phone to the blacklist. The lost devices far outweigh the stolen devices in all Provinces – for all of Canada there were 120,031 stolen devices compared to 319,744 devices which were lost. In a statement to our source, CWTA's Marc Choma said, "CWTA and its members are really pleased to see the decrease in lost and stolen phones, as well as the increase in the use of the public IMEI look-up tool. The look-up tool was the first of its kind to be launched in the world, and Canadians are increasingly becoming aware of it as a way to help protect themselves from inadvertently buying a blacklisted device."