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Is it illegal to change a phone's IMEI in the US?

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#1 AnonVendetta


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Posted 10 September 2017 - 10:01 PM

I know this forum is about booting methods, but I've been having a discussion about this elsewhere online, most say changing IMEI is illegal in the US but they can't cite a specific law. Some say it isn't. I've tried searching the Web myself, haven't found a conclusive answer. So, I basically want to know whether doing so is *currently* and *explicitly* illegal, or whether there are any laws here that make this illegal by the description of an IMEI without specifically mentioning it. Bills that have/are being considered by Congress but haven't been passed into law don't count as proof of illegality. A ruling by the US FCC or the DMCA, etc would also be sufficient proof, as long as it is conclusive. I only care about laws that are on a federal level, not state to state laws. I would also like to note that an IMEI and an ESN are not the same thing, changing ESN is definitely and highly illegal in the US and can get you significant prison time. Thanks!

#2 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 09:08 AM

There are a number of reiterated proposals:





but I don' t think they ever passed as Law, the fact that the Bill was proposed should mean logically that there is no current Law covering the IMEI change, but it is well possible that some other Law (related more generally to identification numbers of industrial products) may be applied or used by prosecutors, but likely that would be in connection with some other illegal activity (like, say, fraud or misrepresentation od one's identity, etc.).


The Bill(s) were somehow connected to the (obscure) initiative by CTIA, that doesn't look like it had this great success:



right now (I presume since the service start, i.e. late 2012/2013) has seemingly checked 27466 devices (to be compared to the 2-4 millions :w00t: devices stolen or lost in the US per year).


On this side of the pond (this is UK as an example):


it is likely illegal.




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