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Sunday, July 21, 2024

SIM card bill bans ‘spoofing’ as a crime

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Senator Grace Poe aims to strengthen further her proposed SIM (subscriber identification module) Card Registration Law by including spoofing as a criminal infraction.

Senate Bill 1310 filed by the lady lawmaker defined spoofing as an “act of transmitting misleading or inaccurate information about the source of the phone call or text message, with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.”

Spoofing or the altering of the SIM card makes it appear that the message was sent by the registered user, the measure stated.

“The intent of this proposed measure is to strengthen our cybercrime laws,” Poe explained.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III argued however, that spoofing was already a crime under existing laws, thus should be deleted from SB 1310.

“In my opinion, it can be punishable under the existing laws already,” Pimentel said, but Poe disagreed.

She quoted the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) as saying spoofing was being done by using a device that alters the sender’s number such that it would appear that a message came from a different caller.

“It circumvents the very purpose of registration which is to tie up a name into a number so that criminal activity can be decreased,” Poe said, stressing that if spoofing will not be penalized, it would be a detriment to the integrity of the registration system itself.

Senator Pia Cayetano and Majority Leader Joel Villanueva agreed with Poe.

Poe, who chairs the Committee on Public Services, said the spoofing provision was included in the previous bill ratified by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but was vetoed by then Rodrigo Duterte due to technicalities.

Pimentel eventually agreed to retain spoofing in the measure.

The bill, already approved by the Senate on second reading, seeks mandatory registration of SIM cards and curb mobile phone and electronic communication-aided crimes from texts scams and terrorist activities by requiring mobile phone users to present valid government identification and documents for registration.

Refiled in the 19th Congress, the measure was amended to expand its coverage from ordinary SIM cards to newer types of SIMs, such as the eSIM (electronic SIM).

An eSIM is a digital SIM that is embedded in a mobile device and can connect to any operator offering such service.

Minors can register using their parents’ or guardians’ names under SBN 1310.

Telecommunication companies are mandated to protect the submitted personal information in a secured database.

Their compliance with security standards shall be audited annually by the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

Also on Monday, the House of Representatives approved its SIM card registration measure, with 250 affirmative votes, six negative votes, and one abstention.

Every public telecommunications entity or authorized seller of SIM cards must require the buyers to accomplish and sign in triplicate a numbered registration form.


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