The Vekhovna Rada of Ukraine has registered a draft bill providing for amendments to the current law "On telecommunication" and introduction of obligatory registration of mobile phones for Ukrainians. The initiative is proposed by Party of Regions deputy Vitaly Zhuravski. The explanatory note reads that the initiative is aimed at improvement of countermeasures against misappropriation of cell phones.

"Cell phones are very popular among the population and rank among the most popular things for stealing. Stolen phones get reset with the help of special devices and sold at markets or through internet. Victims of such crimes not only suffer material losses, but also lose important information (contacts, messages, etc.), which cannot be restored in the majority of cases," the note reads.

In particular, according to the draft bill, communication service providers will keep a register of mobiles' IDs and will have to cut off phones in case reported stolen or by court order.

Moreover, by court ruling CSP will have to trace a cell phone and report to law enforcements about its location. In case of legal inquiry within a criminal case, communication service providers will be obliged to control certain terminals.

The draft bill has been sent to the relevant parliamentary committee for consideration, thus there are no expert conclusions yet. It is not quite clear how the registration of cell phones will be carried out: with a purchase of a new phone or all phones in use.

Nevertheless, ForUm asked lawyers, activists, sociologists and law enforcements whether this draft bill ca help to reduce the level of petty thefts.

Vitaly Zhuravski, MP (Party of Regions), author of the draft bill:

- The draft bill concerns the problem of stolen cell phones and negative consequences of the event. If a phone owner reports the theft and provides proper documents of ownership, a communication service provider will be able to cut off the phone and control the personal terminal. Phones and terminals can be cut off or traced also by court ruling.

Moreover, to improve countermeasures against misappropriation of cell phones, CSP will be obliged to keep Equipment Identity Register (EIR) and coordinate it with the Central Register (CEIR), containing phone IDs registered by other mobile service providers, including those of foreign states; to trace phone movements and report on its location to law enforcements in case of official inquiry.

This draft bill is useful and has all chances to be adopted. 
Eduard Bagirov, human rights activist:

- Registration of IP-addresses of PC and phones enables law enforcements to speed up the search. However, any decision to control personal equipment of citizens can be considered as limitation of civil rights. In some cases phones are not reported stolen, but search is carried out anyway.

Interested parties carry out illegal search of location, personal identification, wiretapping, etc. If the draft bill comes into force, not only law enforcements will speed up the search of thieves, but also the third parties (private security, investigation agencies) will be able to "order" wiretapping of sms and calls...

I, for example, cannot say with assurance that my phone is not tapped by law enforcements or some private investigation agencies. To avoid problems will illegal collection of information, the draft bill must guarantee the use of information only within the law and protect from any leaks. For the moment, the draft bill does not mention any of these.

Vasyl Durdinets, aide of the interior minister of Ukraine:

- I believe this draft bill is not just a personal initiative of a deputy, but a vital necessity. If the above mentioned measures are justified, I believe they should be supported. Similar practice exists in other countries, and I think the registration will put order in the system.

Viktor Nebozhenko, political scientist, head of the sociological service "Ukrainian barometer":

- If we know for sure that law enforcements follow the letter of the law and do not abuse the power against the opposition, for example, this initiative will be very useful. Indeed, Ukraine is facing an epidemic of phone thefts, and police needs some technical leads to solve the crimes. On the other hand, we all know that any law adopted in our countries turns into an autocratic instrument. Thus, results depend not on the document itself, but on its observance and executives.

Evhen Golovakha, deputy director of the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine:

- Every phone has already been registered and ahs its international mobile equipment identity (IMEI). The initiative proposed by the MP already functions in Russia. To get a number and service, a citizen must present his passport with residential registration. However, many Russians connect illegally at the black market. And we might have the same situation: black market on one hand and total control by law enforcements on the other.


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