Indonesia Blocks Illegally Imported Mobile Phones

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. certify / ˈsɜr təˌfaɪ / (v) – to give proof that something is true or correct

    The clerk will give a document that will certify that you are the owner of the land.

  2. registry / ˈrɛdʒ ə stri / (n) – a place that contains official lists or records of information

    Before we let you enter, we’ll check the registry to see whether your name is listed among the participants or not.

  3. disable / dɪsˈeɪ bəl / (v) – to make something unusable

    My phone can’t connect to the Internet because I disabled my Wi-Fi connectivity.

  4. optimize / ˈɒp təˌmaɪz / (v) – to use something in the most effective way possible

    If we maintain our equipment well, we’ll be able to optimize its use.

  5. root out (something) / rut aʊt / (phrasal) – to find something and remove it

    The police were finally able to root out the illegal trade in the city after they identified the people involved.


Read the text below.

Indonesian authorities will now block illegally imported mobile phones bought from the black market.

Three Indonesian ministers signed a new rule that will cause illegally imported mobile phones to be unusable for communication. The rule aims to protect investors entering the country by eliminating black markets that sell mobile phones. The full implementation of this new policy will be from April 2020.

To certify whether a mobile phone was legally imported or not, owners will have to input their phone’s identification number on a website. Each mobile phone is assigned a unique 15-digit code called the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI).

If an owner’s IMEI is not on the registry, the phone may have been bought overseas. There is a possibility that the phone may have been illegally imported. When this happens, owners should register their phones’ IMEI within six months from the time that the new rule was announced. After the six-month period, unregistered phones will no longer be able to connect to any of the country’s cellular networks. Basic mobile phone functions like making phone calls will be disabled.

The new policy is meant to allow the government to optimize profits from the mobile phone industry. Indonesia sells an estimated 60 million units of mobile phones a year, according to the country’s industry minister. However, illegally imported mobile phones are causing the country to lose around 2 trillion rupiahs ($141 million) in taxes annually.

In addition to the national government, the local mobile phone industry is also expected to greatly benefit from the regulation. Rooting out the illegal phone sellers in the country will allow local retailers to flourish. It may also mean better business opportunities for local manufacturers.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, should this policy be implemented worldwide? Why or why not?
• What do you think should be done to phones that are found to be illegal (e.g. destroyed, donated)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Why do you think some people buy products from black markets? Discuss.
• Aside from implementing regulations, in what other ways can governments discourage people from buying products sold in black markets?