From left, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, Industry Minister Airlangga Hartanto, Communications Minister Rudiantara and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati displaying smuggled alcohol and mobile phones seized by the Directorate General of Customs and Excise in February last year. (Photo courtesy of the Cabinet Secretariat)

Gov't to Issue Regulation Blocking Illegal Mobile Phones


JUNE 25, 2019

Jakarta. The government is finalizing a regulation to curb the use of illegal mobile phones in Indonesia.

The regulation will make it mandatory for the unique 15-digit international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) number, assigned to every mobile phone, to be registered with the authorities. Local operators will not allow unregistered phones to connect to their cellular networks.

"[Mobile phone] operators would have to eliminate illegal mobile phones because the price difference between legal and illegal mobile phones on e-commerce platforms is between Rp 2 million and Rp 3 million [$141-$212]," Janu Suryanto, director of electronics and telematics at the Ministry of Industry, said over the weekend. 

When the regulation is in place, mobile phones purchased abroad will have to be reported to the authorities and it will be subject to an additional tax. 

The industry ministry is studying and developing a device identification, registration and blocking system aimed at detecting illegal mobile phones, Janu said.

The system is the result of collaboration between the ministry, American mobile chipmaker Qualcomm and the Global System for Mobile Communications Association. All IMEI numbers will be registered on a database maintained by the ministry.

"The machine is already on the third floor of the industry ministry building. Our goal is to eliminate illegal cellphones," Janu said.

The Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Ministry of Trade are working together on drafting the new regulation.

Janu said the regulation would not attract public debate like with the requirement for all SIM cards to be registered, because it is designed to protect the local industry and not to spy on consumers.

The ministry is also preparing a regulation that would enforce the local content requirement for mobile phones, laptop computers, tablets and television sets. Janu said all television sets with screens smaller than 42 inches must be produced in Indonesia.

The regulation would force manufacturers to source some of their materials locally.

Products with a local content requirement below 10 percent must be produced at home and utilize domestic labor.

According to Statistics Indonesia, 29 percent of Indonesia's imports are from China, with laptop computers making up the bulk.

Industry Minister Airlangga Hartanto said in 2017 that about 20 percent of mobile phones in use in Indonesia were either fake or smuggled.