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#416389 - 09/17/11 08:07 AM You have to register your phones – law coming....  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,421
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
The majority of the citizens of Belize own or use cellular phones from either Belize Telemedia Limited’s Digicell, or Speednet’s SMART services. The reality, however, is that the cell numbers of many customers are not registered, and thus are in no way tied to the identities of their owners.

The Police have noticed cell phones are often used by criminals as tools in their execution of crimes, but the process of pinpointing culprits has been a bit challenging because the owners of these phones are not easily identified, due to the absence of a registration base for such phones. To address the situation, as well as an assortment of other security concerns, Government has decided to mandate that all citizens register their cell numbers, or risk their SIM cards being deactivated.

Doug Singh, Minister of Police, told KREM News that both telecommunications companies are participating in the initiative, and after the law has been formally announced, citizens will have a period of six months within which they must register their numbers, or the phones will be strapped (deactivated).

Singh said that this registration process will also impede, or resolve, the theft of mobile phones, which has become a public plague.

In the case of SMART’s services, the process of registration will involve, not only the registration of the number, but also registration of the phone itself. This means that if a phone is registered to a specific person, and it is stolen, the phone can be deactivated, and it becomes useless.

Singh explained that in the case of BTL’s Digicell, which uses the SIM card system, the registration will be carried out in two stages.

In the first stage, customers will be required to register their SIM cards, which provide each user with a unique number.

After that stage has been completed, customers will then be required to register their International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) code on each phone. The IMEI code is a unique identity code that is broadcasted on the signal whenever a phone and SIM card are used to make a call on a network.

Singh says that another security concern that this will help address is the sending of threatening texts. With each phone number registered, the police will be able to track threatening texts and deal with offenders.

He explained that in numerous cases, when a murder has been committed, and the police conduct their investigation, they often find a number of offensive texts. These text conversations can often be linked to individuals who had contact with the victims, and may have been involved in their deaths.

As it stands, without the registration, police can’t take this approach in their investigation, because there is no direct way to link a person to the texts and have it hold up in court.

It is notable, as Singh mentioned, that persons will become liable for any crime that can be traced to their cell number after the registration. This means that if a phone is stolen, it must be reported immediately to the company. It also means that citizens must be careful and not register phones in their names on behalf of other people in an effort to try to exploit the system.

After the 6-month period for registration has expired and unregistered numbers have been deactivated, customers will still have the opportunity to reactivate them by getting their phones registered. All new SIM cards and SMART numbers will be registered before they are released to a customer.

A formal GOB release is expected sometime later in the week, with all the details of the new law for registration.

We also spoke to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl Lynn Vidal, who has told us that with this cell number registration, the police’s ability to investigate crimes will be tremendously strengthened.

She said that in order for police to request and make use of sensitive telecommunication information, an application must be made to the court, with all the appropriate explanations and justification for such access to, and use of, the private data. Only after the court approves the application, will the police be able to get the requested information from the telecommunications companies.

She explained that in the past, the police have used text messages, faxes, and phone calls to discover possible leads in their investigations. In particular, follow-up work based on cell phone records, has led to the detention and questioning of certain suspects, and these records have served as circumstantial evidence in the linking of possible suspects to a crime.

Now that the cell number registration will be mandatory, police will be able to match an identity to certain evidence, and investigations will move along more quickly.

She also touched on the topic of privacy invasion, which has been a concern of members of the public. She explained that the cellular registration will not be any sort of invasion of privacy; in fact, there are procedures that must be followed, as explained above.

In fact, she cited that it is a criminal offense for any person or organization to be in possession of sensitive telecommunications information without the Supreme Court granting access to such data.


#416433 - 09/17/11 11:31 AM Re: You have to register your phones – law coming.... [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,421
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
your SIM card is registered, but not your phone. You’ll have to give them the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number for your phone.

#417230 - 09/28/11 08:14 AM Re: You have to register your phones – law coming.... [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,421
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Effective October 11, it will be mandatory that all prepaid cellular phones be registered. The measure is part of the Government of Belize's anti-crime efforts. It is expected that having customers register their cellular phones will allow for the recovery of cellular numbers, eliminate cellular phone theft, and assist law enforcement in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting crimes that involve the use of cellular phones. According to the Ministry of Police and Public Safety there will be a six month period after which all unregistered phones will automatically be disconnected by the respective telephone company. New cellular phones purchased after October 2011 will have to register at the point of sale. The public is asked to contact their telephone company for further information on how to register their prepaid cellular phones.


#417236 - 09/28/11 08:35 AM Re: You have to register your phones – law coming.... [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,421
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Register sim cards and phones or lose numbers

Raphael Martinez

There’s a new law that will kick in on October eleventh, which is bound to stir public debate over privacy issues. It is the mandatory registration of prepaid cellular numbers. According to a release by the Ministry of Police, both Belize Telemedia and SpeedNet will begin the registration under the Telecommunications Act and at the end of a six month period, those phones that have not been duly registered, will be disconnected. New cell phones acquired after October will have to be registered at the point of sale.

Raphael Martinez, Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Police

“It’s cell phones and sim cards—sim cards in respect to Telemedia and cell phones with regard to SpeedNet.”

Jose Sanchez

“And what is the purpose? What are you expecting to be the result?”

Raphael Martinez

“Well basically we know that we have quite a few criminal activities that have taken place through the use of cell phones and it’s not secret; even behind the prison walls we find people conducting criminal activities through their cell phones. So this is one way to intercept these messages that they send out there and to try to get some convictions.”

Jose Sanchez

“So you are saying that if it’s attached to a name, it can be used for wire tapping; same as intercepting of messages.”

Raphael Martinez

“Exactly; once you’re registered, you can be recorded and the message can be used against you.”

Jose Sanchez

“How many cell phones or sim cards are we talking about that you expect to be registered in this period?”

Raphael Martinez

“Well that has to be ascertained by the service providers themselves—SpeedNet and of course Telemedia as well. They are actually doing their own P.R. Drive in this regard. It’s a six months period.”

Jose Sanchez

“And if people procrastinate and say well I am not going to do it?”

Raphael Martinez

“Well after the six months period is over, then you will be disconnected.”

Jose Sanchez

“And you will have to get a new card and you will still have to register?’

Raphael Martinez

“You will still have to register. So we want to stop that mad rush coming on to the end of March. So we want to appeal to the general public to as soon as possible to visit your service provider and starting from this month to register your phones. As a matter of fact, it has some good things as well. If you lose your phone, you can just call early and tell them listen my phone was lost—and you can retrieve your number as well as your credit. So that is a good aspect about it especially for those business persons and so on.”

Jose Sanchez

“Other than cell phone theft, what main crimes are you referring to that made this initiative mandatory or necessary?”

Raphael Martinez

“Well, we have quite a few criminal activities happening. As I mentioned earlier, people are behind the prison walls and are actually using their cell phones to make things happen out here. I mean this is just one intervention in many interventions that I think the Ministry of Police and Public Safety has taken up to ensure that we at least try to curb and stem this flow of crime that is happening within our society.”

Jose Sanchez

“But if it’s an issue that is mainly at the prison, can’t you just put the prison on lockdown; do cell searches?”

Raphael Martinez

“The prison is only one example that I am using, but I am sure that we have quite a few activities taking place. I mean drug activities—remember Belize is only a transshipment point for all these drug activities as well.”

The government says that the registration of telephones is a part of the government’s anti-crime initiatives. On Wednesday morning on Open Your Eyes, two attorneys will discuss the new law.

Channel 5

#417252 - 09/28/11 11:55 AM Re: You have to register your phones – law coming.... [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,825
Hon Offline
Hon  Offline
Wondering how this will affect visitors who want to use a Belize SIM card in their Canadian/US/other International phone for the relatively short periods of time that they are in the country.

Newfoundlanders are the only people in heaven who want to go home.
#417281 - 09/28/11 02:09 PM Re: You have to register your phones – law coming.... [Re: Marty]  
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 6,714
Amanda Syme Offline
Amanda Syme  Offline
They just have to register when they buy the sim - the registration would be at the point of sale.

#417298 - 09/28/11 03:53 PM Re: You have to register your phones – law coming.... [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,825
Hon Offline
Hon  Offline
My phone IMEI # is registered in Canada with my Canadian phone # and, unless things are vastly different in Belize, it can't legally be registered with a second phone #. Looks like repeat visitors, like me, would be better off buying a cheapo phone to be used exclusively in Belize.

Newfoundlanders are the only people in heaven who want to go home.
#417309 - 09/28/11 05:22 PM Re: You have to register your phones – law coming.... [Re: Marty]  
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 6,714
Amanda Syme Offline
Amanda Syme  Offline
most people use a cheapo phone here anyway -less worry of theft, or the phone going swimming. LOL

#417315 - 09/28/11 05:38 PM Re: You have to register your phones – law coming.... [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,468
SimonB Offline
SimonB  Offline
Thanks Hon. Here I was thinking I was in the clear with a post paid number and now I'm wondering what impact will this have on using my phone in Guatemala with my Tigo phone chip...

#417325 - 09/28/11 08:50 PM Re: You have to register your phones – law coming.... [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 130
debbief Offline
debbief  Offline
Would someone be willing to tell me what "cheapo" phone works in Belize? When I search Amazon for "unlocked quad band" cell phones, some specify "U.S. version" and I'm not sure if that means they work only in the U.S. or also in the U.S. I really just want to put my Belize SIM card in it for use when I'm down. I've tried to figure this out on another thread, so now I'm begging for specifics!

All help is very much appreciated!!!

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