...Edit: Wow, formatting is a PITA. Probably easier just to click over to the link.
The nation's major wireless providers have agreed to a deal with the U.S. government to build a central database of stolen cellphones—part of a broad effort to tame an explosion of thefts nationwide.
The database, which the wireless companies will build and maintain, will be designed to track phones that are reported as lost or stolen and deny them voice and data service. The idea is to reduce crime by making it difficult or impossible to actually use a stolen device, reducing resale value.
Currently, Verizon Communications Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp. block phones that are reported stolen from being reactivated. AT&T Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA don't. All four have agreed to be part of the new database.
Details of the national stolen-phone database have yet to be worked out, but a broad outline has been agreed to.
Wireless phones that have been reported stolen to the carrier will be listed in the database using unique serial numbers associated with mobile gadgets. The carriers will block listed phones from accessing carrier networks for voice and data service.
Carriers will roll out their own individual databases within six months. The individual databases will be integrated and centralized over the 12 months thereafter. Smaller, regional wireless carriers are expected to join the database over two years, according to a person familiar with the plan. As part of the agreement, wireless carriers will also roll out initiatives to encourage mobile-phone users to set up passwords on their devices to deter theft.
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