Vivo is one of the largest mobile manufacturers among all other brands. In June 2020, the cybercrime unit of Meerut Police claimed that there are more than 13,500 Vivo mobile devices that have the same IMEI number. Now, why is that a big issue?
IMEI numbers are unique numeric patterns that have to be different from another device even in the same company. Each different device has an IMEI number. Phones which have two SIM cards have two (2) different IMEI numbers.
IMEI stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. It is a 15-digit unique code that may be used for multiple purposes such as tracking a device, or fetching log data if using any carrier’s SIM card for multiple purposes. It is also another parameter to find the stolen devices. Criminal activities can also be tracked using this number. By using the same IMEI number in more than 13,500 devices Vivo could’ve hampered the police tracking the criminals or stolen devices. In 2017, the Telecom Authority of India stated that all mobile phones must have unique IMEI numbers and if any company fails to do so then it could result in fines or up to 3 years of imprisonment.
This incident led to the police filing a case against Vivo and its service center. One of the police officer's phone in Meerut Station was not operating properly after a servicing provided by the service center. Then the device was sent to the cybercrime unit and they found the IMEI which was on the phone is not match with its box. The issue was transferred to an unidentified telecommunication company in India and on the 24 September of 2019 they’ve found there are 13,557 mobile phones are running in different states in India.
The police department of Meerut reportedly handed a notice to Vivo India’s nodal officer Harmanjit Singh under Section 91 of the CrPC and also files a case under section 420 of the IPC.