Laptops to phone home as a theft deterrent?

The Inquirer is running an opinion piece regarding the benefits of adding GSM network access to laptops. The ubiquity of the GSM standard would make access available most anywhere in the world. Fernando Cassia argues that it’s time to replace the dial up modem with wireless connectivity. The cost would be minimal and laptop theft would decrease.

Mobile devices are assigned a unique IMEI code, installed in a laptop they would do the same. Much more than a barcode, the IMEI code can be transmitted and received, so that a mobile phone operator can remotely shut down unauthorized phones.

Notebooks are easy to steal and harder to trace. Having reported laptops shutting down would certainly dissuade some from purchasing suspect laptops. By using GSM localization, the laptop could even be tracked.

Between inoperable laptops and track-ability, the article makes a compelling argument. At the very least it would save a call for those 10,000 (it bears repeating) people who manage to lose their laptops every week at U.S. airports. “Oh, hello Mr. Jones. Yes you’re laptop is at the airport. Again.”

So how about it? Do we need to know where are laptops are? Would it even work?