Sanchar Saathi Similar to Google and Apple’s Find My Device? Ashwini Vaishnaw on Citizen-Centric Portal


Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw (right) at the event. (News18)

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw (right) at the event. (News18)

Three reforms – Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR), Know Your Mobile (KYM) and ASTR – are being undertaken in the broad framework of this portal

Union Minister for Railways, Communications, Electronics & IT Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday launched the Sanchar Saathi portal today focusing on user safety in India.

The portal may also appear as an alternative to the services provided by Google and Apple for device detection and tracking. While for Android phones, Google provides a ‘Find, lock, or erase a lost Android device’ option, to locate an iOS device, a user needs to check in to or utilise the Find My app on another Apple device.

While responding to a query by News18, the minister, however, said that tracking the location of a device and taking action are two different things and disabling a stolen or lost device is the main motive so that no one can use it.

“Only law enforcement authorities can disable the device and it should be done through a legal procedure. Through three reforms, we created a proper legal regulatory procedure by which the mobile phones either lost or stolen can actually be disabled,” the minister added.

Vaishnaw, during the press conference mentioned, the three reforms that are being undertaken in the broad framework of this portal. They are Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR), Know Your Mobile (KYM) and ASTR.

Sanchar Saathi portal is a citizen-centric project of the Department of Telecommunications to empower mobile customers and enhance their security. It empowers people by allowing them to see the mobile connections granted in their name, disconnect those that are no longer needed, block or trace missing mobile phones, and verify the authenticity of devices when purchasing a new or used mobile phone.

While CEIR is the pilot system that the telecom ministry that has been running in some of the telecom circles, the portal also includes another module, Telecom Analytics for Fraud management & Consumer Protection (TAFCOP).

The CEIR module aids in the recovery of lost or stolen mobile devices. This also allows for barring of lost or stolen mobile devices on the networks of all telecom carriers, preventing them from being used in the country. Any attempt to use the restricted mobile phone generates traceability.

A TAFCOP allows a mobile user to check the number of mobile connections taken in his or her name. It also makes it easier to report mobile connections that are either unnecessary or are not used by the subscriber.

So far through CEIR, over 4,80,000 mobile phones have been blocked and more than 2,40,000 mobiles have been traced successfully. Similarly, through TAFCOP, the telecom ministry has received over 80,000 requests and more than 1,600 requests have been resolved.

Through the KYM option given in the portal, a user can search for whether someone else has used his or her name to activate new connections. They only have to provide the number in the portal followed by a captcha and OTP.

Next, the person will see all the numbers under the “mobile number registered in your name” section and they will be able to verify the numbers on their own.

Among these three reforms, ASTR is an Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition-powered solution for telecom SIM subscriber verification. This will help to identify how many connections a fraudster has been using.

“Either fraudsters take a mobile phone connection using someone else’s identity or they use one identity document, but put someone else’s image. To prevent such crimes we have created ASTR,” Vaishnaw added.

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