Indonesia issues new regulation to block illegal imported phones

The illegally imported phones without a valid IMEI number will be blocked from April 2020.

The Indonesian government has released a new regulation to curb the use of illegal mobile phones purchased in the black market in the country, a minister announced on Friday.

The regulation was signed on Friday by three ministers, including the IT and Communication Minister, Industry Minister, and the Trade Minister.

The regulation aims to enact the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) rules, which grant a 15 digit unique device identification number. Phone users will have to check on a designate website if their phones were imported according to the law, and should register their IMEI number with the Industry Ministry within six months from Friday, according to officials.

Users who fail to do this will no longer be able to use their phones for calls, as the government will block those devices with a non-registered IMEI number.

The regulation will give protection for local mobile phones, computers, and tablet industries, including the users, officials said.

“Indonesia has a large market for mobile phones, around 60 million units per year. We have the same vision, the circulation of illegal devices domestically must be suppressed, so that domestic industries will be able to have high competitiveness and state revenue in this sector can be optimized,” Airlangga Hartanto, the Industry Minister said at the signing ceremony of the Ministries’ regulation, as quoted in the press statement.

The government estimates that 9 million to 10 million illegal phone units are introduced in Indonesia every year. Officials say that this number results in job losses and depreciation of factories and local components, which are worth 10% of the direct production costs, an amount equivalent to IDR 2.25 trillion or USD 159.27 million. While the potential loss of state revenue from taxes amounts IDR 2.81 trillion per year.

Hartanto explained that the regulation was launched because the system is now ready. “This system will check the data, and the data is in the Ministry of Industry. We have already entered more than 1.4 billion IMEIs,” he said.

Djatmiko Wardoyo, a director of the PT Erajaya Swasembada Tbk, Indonesia’s largest phone distributors, confirmed that non-registered phones will be automatically blocked.

“The control of IMEI has been implemented in many countries to curb the parallel import. With the implementation of IMEI control, the entry gap of illegal cell phones will be overcome, and in turn, we will have a positive impact on the country, consumers, and industry,” Wardoyo told KrAsia.

Meanwhile, the telco operators are still waiting for the implementation instructions and technical instructions related to the regulation.

“The implementation has not yet been discussed in detail. We hope there will be a data source that can inform about the IMEI validity,”  Tri Wahyuningsih, group head of corporate communication XL Axiata told KrAsia.

The implementation of this new law will be effective from April 2020.

Meanwhile, the regulation will not apply to foreign tourists as long as they use the registered numbers from the sim card of the origin country. “If the foreigner changes the origin provider into Indonesia’s network providers, there will be another mechanism, which we still have to arrange,” said Dimas Yanuarsyah, an official in the IT and Communication ministry.