All public telecommunications entities (PTEs) will soon be required to register mobile phone Subscriber Identity Module cards as a prerequisite to their sale and activation.
This after Congress ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed SIM Card Registration Act.
The measure also provides that all social media networks should require the real name and phone number of users upon the creation of their accounts. All existing SIM card subscribers with active services must register within 180 days from the effectivity of the proposed law.
The measure is now awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature into law.
The country’s major telecommunications players on Thursday welcomed the ratification of the measure, as they expressed preparedness to implement it once it becomes a law.
“We welcome this development from Congress. We have always maintained our stance that the SIM card registration bill will help quash the proliferation of fraudulent spam messages, smishing cases and fraud, and will boost telecom security efforts to keep subscribers safe,” Smart Communications vice president for regulatory affairs Roy Ibay said in a statement.
“It will also spur e-commerce adoption and growth,” Ibay added.
Globe Telecom also backed the measure, saying in a statement: “This is part of our commitment to support the government in its fight against fraud, terrorism, and other crimes.”
“It also paves the way for greater digital and financial inclusion,” the Ayala-led telco added.
During the same plenary session, other bills that were ratified by the House include:
• House Bill 78 and Senate Bill 2094, providing for the definition of public utility;
• HB 3255 and SB 1241, establishing Timbangan ng Bayan Centers in all markets nationwide;
• HB 10610 and SB 1155, fixing the validity period of the license to own and possess, registration, and permit to carry firearms outside of residence or place of business;
• HB 9458 and SB 643, granting night shift differential pay to government employees;
• HB 10698 and SB 2124, strengthening the Sangguniang Kabataan;
• HB 10658 and SB 2449, strengthening the policies on anti-trafficking in persons;
• HB 8818 and SB 2365, strengthening the regulatory framework for the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC); and
• HB 10701 and SB 2421, granting mandatory continuing benefits to health workers during the Covid-19 pandemic and other future public health emergencies.
Deputy Speaker Wes Gatchalian on Thursday said the SIM Card Registration Act could help law enforcement agencies in tracking down delinquents who use mobile phones with SIM cards to pursue nefarious activities.
These activities include terrorism, text scams, unsolicited, indecent or obscene messages, bank fraud, libel, anonymous online defamation, trolling, hate speech, the spread of digital disinformation or fake news.
“Indeed, we are grateful for the avowed support of the present leadership in fulfilling its legislative mandate to ratify this landmark measure, knowing the timely and vital role of information and modern communications technology at this time,” Gatchalian said.
Under the bill, all existing SIM card subscribers with active services shall register with their respective PTEs within 180 days from the effectivity of this proposal.
An extension period of no longer than 120 days shall be allowed upon a valid written request to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
The failure of the subscriber to register shall authorize the PTE to automatically deactivate or retire the SIM card number. It is likewise the responsibility of the SIM card owner to report its loss or of any change in the information after registration.
“We change SIM cards as fast as we change our soiled shirts.
Alarmingly, this seeming boundless stream of supply has become a magnet for nefarious and illegal activities. By requiring the registration of SIM cards, we promote accountability in its use and provide law enforcement agencies the tool to resolve crimes which involve its utilization,” Gatchalian said.
He said even the telcos themselves, as well as courier and delivery riders, are supportive of the push for mandatory SIM card registration.
The registration required under the measure shall be implemented at no cost to the end-users or the third-party resellers.
Gatchalian stressed that all data gathered pertinent to the registration shall be kept in compliance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and any breach or unauthorized disclosure of information shall be imposed the penalties prescribed in the bill.
The National Telecommunications Commission, in close consultation with the PTEs, social media providers, the Department of Trade and Industry, DICT, and the National Privacy Commission shall be among the government agencies which shall formulate the necessary guidelines in the proper implementation of the real-name registration program based on the parameters set by the measure.