Authorities mull law to combat illegal imports of mobile handsets


The government considers passing a law that
would make it impossible for customers to use mobile phones bought abroad or imported
illegally in Belarus.
Customers would have to pay to make a SIM card operational.

If the law
is adopted the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers of
legally imported phones will be registered in a national database. Mobile
operators will be prohibited from providing services to the owners of phones
with unregistered IMEI numbers.

The rule would not apply to the phones that
have been in use. But if one buys a handset abroad after the law takes effect, he/she
would have to pay an IMEI registration fee, Salaudzi Mahamadau, a senior
officer with the Prosecutor General's Office, told Euroradio.

The law is aimed to fight illegal imports of handsets. It would also help trace
stolen phones. For instance, if you buy a stolen phone you will be able to use
it, but the operator will identify its IMEI number as soon as you insert your
SIM card.

If the law is enacted, it would be logical to simplify the certification
process. Many phones are imported illegally because of complex certification
procedures. However, Mikalay Kaledzin, deputy head of the Hiprasuvyaz Certification
Center, says that simpler
certification may be considered only after the law enters into force. "We
usually say something when a law is on our table. As to what is planned, it
would be empty talk."

It is unclear how foreign visitors would use their phones in Belarus. "The
draft law sets forth strategic goals. All procedures will be based on its
requirements," Mahamadau explained.
He noted that the Ministry of Trade is currently examining the proposal that is
to be finalized early next year.