Anti-theft law may not be best deal for mobile phone users

Getting the best deal for your mobile phone in Russia may become a thing of the past if the Ministry of Communications gets their way.

In an effort clamp down on the trade in fake and stolen mobiles the Ministry wants to link each mobile phone with a unique sim-card provided at a specific tariff by an operator.

Users will have to sign an agreement with their mobile operator giving them the right to block the phone if it is stolen.

However, experts believe the law will make it easier for mobile distributors to control the import of fake phones rather than restrict or prevent trade in the market for stolen phones. “The changes in legislation designed to increase the responsibility of importers of equipment in terms of registration of certificates of compliance for imported equipment and ultimately reduce the number of phone robberies” says Valeriya Kuzmenko, head of press service at MTS, one of the country’s leading cell-phone operators and retailers.

But there are loopholes in the law. Experts say it won’t work unless there’s a legal punishment for those who unlock the phones, which is not the case at the moment. It may also mean additional hassle for consumers if they want to get a new phone. Most probably they will have to buy a phone from their current mobile operator if they want to retain their number. This is unlikely to make many Russians happy as they are used to buying phones abroad and online because it is cheaper.