We will block your phone! Unless… (resolucion 3128, device blocking, Colombia)

While being in Medellin, I urgently had to resolve an issue that came together with coming to Colombia with my phone (first mistake), and then buying a local simcard (the mistake connected with previous point).

Few days after buying the simcard, I received a text saying that my phone will be blocked, unless I register it.

 

I was supposed to do it from the menu by sending text to the number. After agreeing for everything there (could as well be complete access to all your files, and agreement that they [government via simcard operator] will be able to remotely disable anything on my mobile), there was coming a point when I had to put my passport number. Tried to do that several times, in various configurations – with letter, letters, numbers and spaces inbetween, just numbers. I always got a text back that the data is incorrect. And after reading about the resolution (it came into force 2016, so quite a novelty), I learned that they will really be able to remotely kill the hardware.

I asked my friend to provide his ID number, and he did so. But I read a bit more, and learnt that the authorities could knock on his door and ask where the device is, how he bought it, and show the proper invoice. This much about the police state.

Well, next step was to go to the operator office. Thankfully, it was only 15 minutes by walk. Once being there I heard that they don’t know how to help me, that they are only from the invoices side. They redirected me to central hub, where I had to take a bus or taxi. After quite a ride I made it there. After some more time of waiting in line I got served. The lady took my phone, and said that she doesn’t know why this is happening, and she needs a physical passport in order to make a copy, and then will try ajust the system manually. Of course I didn’t take it – it is a common practice that I only have a copy with me – original ALWAYS stays in the hotel, preferably in safe. And no way I was going to go back 40 minutes (upon returning the place would already be closed, so I’d have to repeat the routine another day).

After being persistent and not leaving until the problem was solved, the clerk took my phone, went through all the menus once again, and in the end of it clicked that I was an abroad resident in Colombia, and it was the ID, not the passport. Then it worked. I asked at least dozen of times if FOR SURE, the phone I bought in Poland would NOT be blocked. She confirmed. Easy, isn’t it?

After I was done I expressed how fucked up they are making it for foreigners, together with mentioning how police is harrasing the free circulation. She didn’t seem impressed at all.

This kind of shit I didn’t experience in any, even most fucked-up and bureaucratic country, and together with other experiences from Colombia made me take a decision that it was the only time ever in this country, even if in the future the tickets here would be given away for free. Who knows, maybe next years they will require you to register your laptop and show the original purchasing invoice? And unless you provide it, they will be eligible to block/confiscate your belongings.

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