Bill to register SIM cards receives final House approval.
On its third and final reading, the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring registering all postpaid and prepaid mobile phone subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.
House Bill 14, or the proposed SIM Card Registration Act, which aims to stop the proliferation of mobile phone scams, and data breaches and help law enforcement agencies resolve crimes involving the use of mobile phone units, was approved by the chamber with 250 votes in favor, six against, and one abstention.
The legislation requires every public telecommunications enterprise (PTE) or authorized supplier to demand that an end user fill out and sign in triplicate a numbered registration form provided by the PTE.
An affirmation that the person in front of the seller is the same person who completed the document and that they showed legitimate identification cards must be included on the form.
The form must include the subscriber’s assigned cellphone number, serial number, name, date of birth, gender, and address as they appear on a valid ID with a photo.
Any information in the registration document must be treated in the strictest of confidence unless the subscriber expressly authorizes access to it in writing.
Before the proposed SIM Card Registration Act becomes effective, all SIM cards sold or issued must be registered.
PTEs must keep a registry of all subscribers and the SIM cards they have been given. They must present a list of their authorized vendors and agents to the National Telecommunications Commission.
One of the bill’s authors, senior deputy majority leader Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos, raised the alarm about the prevalence of text scams and fraud using short message service (SMS) messaging, ranging from risky but fictitious warnings about issues with bank accounts to “ridiculous winnings” in raffles.
According to Marcos, the pattern has changed to include people’s complete names, an “entirely new breach” of privacy in light of the dangerous disclosure of private, sensitive information.
“We now essentially have less faith and confidence in digital transactions and electronic business due to these text frauds. In addition to other things, regulating the purchase or sale of SIM cards will allay the concerns of our people that their information is being maliciously and arbitrarily shared with select parties without their consent, “said Marcos.
Speaker Martin Romualdez, Representatives Yedda Romualdez and Jude Acidre from the Tingog Party list, and others are also major architects of the legislation.
For his part, Acidre asserted that requiring SIM card registration establishes users’ identities and holds them responsible for everything they do with their number.
The bill, according to Acidre, will prevent criminals from committing cybercrimes since they will be unable to conceal their identity.
“Without the protections provided by the measure, our people become more open to scams that drain their bank accounts and distress them, as well as to the avalanche of cybercrimes and fake news that rips apart the foundation of our democracy. The law is rich with instances that make clear when our rights are being violated or when the public’s safety and order are at risk, “said Acidre.
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