PTA extends mobile phones blocking deadline for 2 months

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From Our Correspondent

ISLAMABA: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) yesterday agreed to extend its deadline for blocking unregistered mobile phones by two months after the Senate Standing Committee on information technology expressed reservations over the plan.

The committee, during a meeting yesterday, asked PTA Chairman Mohammad Naveed and Director Talib Dogar, who had appeared before the members, if they had the forensic data of stolen mobile phones. PTA chairman told members that stolen mobile devices could be traced through the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. They assured the committee that PTA will only shut down non-compliant devices.

The committee responded that there were multiple devices that were registered on the same IMEI number and blocking all of them would affect many people. The PTA officials argued that unregistered mobile phones, including the ones with duplicate IMEIs, create problems for security agencies as it becomes harder for them to trace stolen devices.

They further said that initiating DIRBS will also increase import revenue till $200 billion.

The standing committee, however, expressed its reservations and pointed out that there was a lack of awareness among people that was creating panic. The members said that an awareness campaign should be held to educate the public about the move.

Earlier this week, PTA had announced that all unregistered mobile phones will become unusable after Oct 20 after its long-anticipated Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS) becomes functional.