The Azerbaijani government has implemented a regulation requiring every mobile phone to be registered with the state communications authority. Data on users and their specific phones will be compiled by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Among the information that officials are interested in is the IMEI code (International Mobile Equipment Identity), essentially passport number of a mobile device. Authorities also intend to keep track of the serial numbers of SIM cards, which can identify a subscriber on a specific mobile network. According to a report distributed by the News.az website, cellular network operators will be obligated to limit the use of unregistered or improperly altered cellphones. As an example, if a user takes out the registered SIM card and puts in another one, which unlike in the United States, is often done in Europe, the mobile phone company will have to block the number. Ali Novruzov, an Azeri blogger, also writes that “if a cell phone changes the user, it will have to be registered again.” Novruzov contended that the restrictions were adopted without parliamentary approval or public discussion. Visitors to Azerbaijan will be required to register their phones at special centers. Failure to do so will eventually result in a cut-off in service, according to the regulations.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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