Appeal judges outlaw 'cloning'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 May, 1996, 12:00am

Mobile phone-users who clone their own phones are breaking the law, according to an Appeal Court ruling yesterday.

The ruling makes it illegal to reprogramme telephones or possess equipment which has been reprogrammed.

'The danger is that secret information could fall into the wrong hands,' prosecutor Tony Schapel said.

Cloning allows phone owners to have a second handset which answers to the same number as the first.

This allows work colleagues or family members to use the service.

Mr Schapel, for the Attorney-General, said a phone's secret code must be revealed before a technician could clone it and he could use the knowledge to make more copies of that equipment.

The original owner would foot the bill for calls made with the copies, he added.

Yesterday's ruling overturns the District Court acquittal of an electronics salesman charged with unlicensed cloning under the Telecommunications Ordinance.

'It is incorrect to regard the act of cloning as no more than gaining access to the system,' Mr Schapel said.

Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang, Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary and Mr Justice Raymond Sears allowed the appeal, sending Ng Chi-ping back to the District Court.