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Sure, this sounds good, but is it really? CDMA carriers have had the ability to track and block phones via ESN numbers for a long time as a consequence of how they are provisioned on the network. A GSM network relies on SIM cards to identify phones. In addition to blocking stolen devices, CDMA carriers have also used their control to hold phones hostage when there is a billing dispute.

While this system is being mandated to make stolen phones useless, it won't stop there. If the carriers can work out a way to block devices that use SIMs, they're going to use it against customers.

Also, it's not going to stop people from stealing phones. CDMA phones have had this functionality forever, and thieves still take Verizon phones all the time. People that steal things are not smart.
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.
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Brian Vaughn's profile photoRyan Whitwam's profile photo
 
If they implement this then the second had market for buying phones will be hurt the most. How do you know that used phone on eBay or Craig's List isn't stolen?
 
+Brian Vaughn With Verizon and Sprint phones, a lot of Craigslist buyers will ask to meet at a carrier store to verify the ESN is clean. Some folks will activate a phone on site before paying if a store isn't open. eBay is trickier.
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