TCRA blocks over100,000 phones over crimes

A TOTAL of 108,395 telecom handsets and other communication devices have been blocked in the past one-year due to various criminal concerns.

Among other reasons, the blocked phones had been associated with multiple criminal acts including, swindling, fraudulent acts, theft as well as reported stolen phones.

Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) Director General Dr Jabiri Bakari told reporters in Dodoma recently that TCRA has been vigilant in identifying communication equipment used in fraudulent acts and blocking the devices’ International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI).

Dr Jabiri Bakari highlighted the successful implementation of measures to restrict usage of fake phones, phones that have been cloned, reported stolen ones, lost, or damaged phones, as well as unauthorised mobile devices for the period of one year.

“Over the period from July 2022 to June 2023, a total of 108,395 IMEIs were blocked by our systems, which were linked to incidents of theft or involvement in criminal activities” he remarked.

This has not only helped in reducing theft incidents but also ensured the availability of quality communication devices in the market.

In November last year, TCRA announced blocking 52,000 phone numbers, including those of scammers.

From July 2021 to September 2022, a total of 52,087 IMEIs were blocked due to being reported as lost, stolen, or involved in criminal activities.

One of the essential tools that TCRA utilises in this process is the Central Equipment Identity Register, which allows the verification of all devices connected to service providers, ensuring compliance with international standards and safety for users.

TCRA has also been vigilant in detecting fraudulent phones entering the country, resulting in a decline in fraudulent phone incidents from 2020 to June 2023. However, there were a few isolated cases of phone fraud in September 2022, said the regulatory.

Addressing the issued Bakari said, “We have a system in place to manage and regulate all communications and analyse various data passing through communication networks,” he remarked.

This system according to regulator receives information from service providers, processes it and provides reports that enable TCRA to oversee its regulatory responsibilities and verify revenue information for communication service providers, thereby enabling the government to collect its revenues through the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).

Speaking about decline in traffic of international calls he further explained that the decrease in such phone calls was attributed to rise in the use of social media communication platforms.

The incoming international call minutes declined by 7.54 per cent from 3,136,692 minutes in July 2022 to 2,900,165 minutes in June 2023, while outgoing international call minutes decreased by 7.46 per cent from 2,405,522 minutes to 2,226,071 minutes during the same period.

“The decline in international calls is due to technological advancements and the availability of alternative options for making calls through internet-based platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, Zoom, among others,” he noted.

The head of Cybercrime Investigative Unit of the Police Force, SSP Joshua Mwangasa, commended TCRA for their outstanding contribution in countering cybercrimes.

He praised the agency for providing state-of-the-art technologies that greatly facilitate the work of the police force in tackling cybercrime effectively.

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