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Change IMEI Feature

Does the Fairphone support IMEI changes? I haven’t seen anything supporting it apart from old posts showing a method 6+ years old.

Just how a user may want to spoof their Wi-Fi MAC address to avoid tracking, a user should be able to do this when connecting to their cellular network to defeat stingrays/cell tower tracking. At this time, only the United Kingdom has regulation against modifying a device’s IMEI. Contrary to popular disinformation, the United States does not have any active law prohibiting this.

I understand that an IMEI change is not a “silver bullet” solution, as the fairphone has several identifiers on components that identify the device. Just as how you can reach support with this information and find your IMEI to make a blacklist report. (Although I question how effective this in-house IMEI database linked to customer sales data is.)

I understand the trade-offs when using a device with a changed IMEI (unable to blacklist, if stolen cannot be located by cell provider), but as with any power user feature, is nothing different.

Looking forward to hearing the community’s thoughts

Err, no. This would open the door to all kinds of shady activities. Imagine someone would fake your IMEI for criminal purposes.

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Something like this?https://www.connectivasystems.com/change-imei-number/

What kind of “activity” are you referring to? I’m taking about defense for protestors who lawfully assemble and wish to defeat stingray surveillance by police looking to deanonymize individuals. Certain LG and Samsung phones (I’ve personally done on both) can have their IMEI changed.

And in response to the link, there’s a difference between software and hardware IMEI changes. Only hardware-level IMEI changes can be seen by your cellular network, software changes only for local apps on your phone.

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So, what’s the difference between “lawfully” changing imei and… changing it to help committing crimes ?

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Well, what’s the sense of using TOR if not for buying weapons?
Why using a VPN if not for committing crimes?
I mean, we have nothing to hide - right? Nope.

There are other aspects of using anonymisation services.
One example is Germany in the 20’s: The police had a database with homosexual persons. Although even that form of surveillance was a huge discrimination, it got even worse: When the Nazis came to power, they used that database to identify homosexuals and, well, to kill them.

Although today we live in another society, some countries like Hungary are dismantling the democracy. The courts are more and more bound to the political line of the right-wing populistic party Fidesz. I would definitely prefer to change my IMEI if I live in a state like Hungary. Surveillance can easily be used to suppress other opinions.
And I’d prefer to be able to change my IMEI if I’d attend a protest march in countries like Hungary, in Belarus and in Poland.

Democracy is not a natural law. We should keep in mind that anti democratic structures like right-wing populism can spread in every country. I don’t want to imagine what would happen if the AfD would came to power in germany (although they already are in power in some (?) federal states, the situation would be different if they had power over whole germany).

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IMEI is a little aspect of a global problem. If you want to hide, you should thrash your phone, as it uses a simcard (linked to a name) and send and receive data.

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And never ever log in to any of those social networks.

@HolosericaCaligo
I full heartedly subscribe to all your arguments.
Still you don’t solve the problem, that @teezeh raised.
When faking an IMEI, one could involuntary or - even worse - voluntarily use the IMEI of some other person. Especially given the circumstances you cite in your latest posting, this could cause severe harm for some totally unsuspecting and innocent person. One does not necessaryly need to have bad intentions and to use the phone for criminal purposes for that.


P.s.
I would rather, we fight against the spreading of right wing extremism, antisemitism, homophobia and the like in our every day actions, than preparing for going undetected if they do come to power.

If there is a serious concern for safety, whistle blowing, releasing information and the likes this is most likely useless.
As soon as you have the sim card installed there is one more black box in your phone:
Modern sim cards are java cards, they have a separate OS and Apps.

Without access to a computer with e.g. tails you should not use a phone with a sim card.
Instead, have a WiFi connection and use that. You can secure WiFi and controll the traffic.
How you get access to the WiFi depends a lot on your circumstances, money and threat.
[WiFi only phone -> airgap -> WiFi access -> internet]

Changing the IMEI is just as useful as changing your sim to another phone to make a call- unless you have a special use-case in mind.

They are not, thankfully, currently. At least not on state level and with the common use of “in power” for the government. They are an opposition party on most levels in most places in the country.
(Just a side note … carry on.)

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Very true, as newer iterations of the SIM card (2002-2003+ onwards) use COMP128-2/3 compared to COMP128-1 which had weak encryption and could recover the subscriber key from the SIM. Regardless of cloning the SIM, the IMSI is still unique to the SIM, which would identify you. (Hence reminding not a “silver bullet” privacy solution, another SIM should be used.)

Of course, depending on your threat level with proper OPSEC, you wouldn’t want to use a phone to begin with. Yet with proper action a citizen can use a phone with less concern of being identified.

Appreciate the responses so far

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I think, from prior reading, that it will also depend on where you are intending to make this change.

In the UK it is actually illegal to change an IMEI. How you would be caught - I don’t know. Most who want to change an IMEI have probably stolen a phone so won’t be worried about an extra crime, but hey ho - it is there. Against the law! No idea about other jurisdictions.

Is it possible - I believe it is. I think there are apps, there are methods through the computer, rooting etc. I haven’t tried any.

Will Fairphone put a feature on the software “click here to change IMEI” - no (see the first point :wink: )

Hope that helps

Simple answer: No, it does not. And I believe that other places exist where this topic is handled “appropriately”…