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Mobile Device Registration: Security and Data Protection

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According to the Ministry of Information and Communications of Kazakhstan, by the end of this year, residents of Kazakhstan need to register their mobile phones with their own Individual Identification Numbers (IIN). The main reason for making these changes is to facilitate the work of the bodies that carry out operational search activities, search for stolen phones, search for criminals and detection of crimes. Read more about this in the analytical material of Strategy2050.kz.

At the same time, the Law “On Making Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Countering Extremism and Terrorism” has introduced the registration of IMEI codes for mobile phones but this does not make it possible to identify an owner of a phone, which complicates the process of operational search operations.

For reference: IMEI is an international identifier unique for every mobile phone. IMEI is the common standard for all mobile devices, which is “stitched” into the phone during the manufacture at a factory. The IMEI code format is the same for all phones regardless of the manufacturer. Also, the IMEI code is used to track and block stolen phones at the cellular operator level, which in the future does not allow the use of such a device in the network of this operator. In addition, thanks to this code, it’s possible to find out information about the mobile device with the physical and technical characteristics: device color, memory size, production date, firmware version when selling the device, unlock methods, etc.

According to Minister of Information and Communications of Kazakhstan, Dauren Abayev, “the IMEI code itself doesn’t allow to identify the owner of the mobile device. Moreover, in the market there are cell phones with the same IMEI-codes. The only effective way in this situation is to bind the IMEI code of the device to owner’s IIN and subscriber’s number. When the phone is registered in this way, the theft of mobile phones will become meaningless”.

According to the Committee of Statistics of the Ministry of National Economy, in 2017 cellular communication subscribers were 26 million 473 thousand units, for 100 Kazakhstanis there were 146 mobile phone numbers. At the same time, it should be noted that earlier the growth in the number of subscribers was recorded until 2014, then there was a decline, which was due to the fact that in 2014 all mobile phone owners had to register cell phone numbers. In comparison with the indicators of 2016, we can note an increase in the number of subscribers to more than 900 thousand units, which was 104% growth.

If we talk about the number of mobile devices, it can be noted that in the world according to data for 2016, more than 62% of the population were owners of mobile phones. According to the rating of countries by the number of smartphone users in Kazakhstan, the owners of such gadgets were more than 7 million people (April 2017). At the same time, it is necessary to note the growth of the mobile phone market in Kazakhstan. Thus, according to the IDC Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in 2016 the mobile phone market in Kazakhstan showed one of the best results, showing an increase of 16.1% compared to the previous year. The leading positions among brands are occupied by Samsung, Apple and LG.

When considering statistics on criminal offenses, it is possible to single out in general an increase in the number of crimes against property, the criminal cases of which were in production during the reporting period, from 300,703 in 2014 to 318,210 in 2016, and in 2017 there is a slight decrease in indicators – 285 146 offenses. At the same time, most offenses are accounted for by theft. So, in 2017, 210 114 thefts were committed, criminal cases for which were in production during this period. Here it is especially necessary to emphasize that it was the cell phones that were the main target of the theft – 45,538 cases. Over three months in 2018, more than 12,000 cases of cell phone thefts were reported. In this vein, the need to register a mobile device for security purposes seems reasonable.

However, the registration of mobile phones affects the protection of personal data and public’s concern about the availability of information about them and the ability to access them. On the other hand, if we consider the fact that most of Kazakhstan’s residents are Internet users and users of electronic and other information systems where the personal data of an individual are requested for personalization, the risk of data leakage increases and, in general, such a risk is present constantly, taking into account already occurred cases of disclosure of personal information in Kazakhstan.

Public relations in the sphere of personal data in Kazakhstan is regulated by the Law of 2013 “On Personal Data and their Protection”. So, according to it, two categories of holders of personal data are distinguished: the owner and operator of the database, while the database must be located on the territory of Kazakhstan. Collection and processing of personal data is carried out with the consent of the citizen or his legal representative. However, the law also defines certain exceptions when the collection and processing of data can be carried out without the consent of an individual: in the course of the activities of state law enforcement bodies, statistical bodies (with the condition of depersonalization), the implementation of international treaties, the protection of constitutional human rights and freedoms,

It should be noted that this law applies not only to state bodies and institutions but also to employers, organizations and individuals (banks, mail, communications, media) that receive information about citizens.

Thus, the registration of mobile devices actualizes the problem of access to personal data of citizens and ensuring their protection but on the other side of the scale lies the issue of security and law and order.

Source: Kazakhtan 2050

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