Bill seeks to make SIM card registration mandatory

A SENATE BILL is seeking to make phone users register their identification details when applying for SIM cards, according to Senator Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares.

On Monday, she sponsored a measure, Senate Bill (SB) No. 2395 or the proposed SIM Card Registration Act, which is intended to deter fraud.

If passed, the legislation will require all telecommunications companies make the registration of SIM cards a prerequisite to their sale.

Such a bill has the potential to expand consumer access to e-government services and develop mobile e-commerce, according to Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who filed a similar bill in the 16th Congress.

He added that it will also provide new channels to access retail financial services such as remittances, payments, savings, credit, and insurance, among others.

The bill would require applicants to submit an electronic registration form and present a valid government-issued identification card (ID) or other documentation as a condition of sale.

“The privacy of consumers shall continue to be given the highest regard,” Ms. Poe said in the chamber Tuesday, adding that information may only be accessed by authorities acting on a court order.

Unregistered SIM cards have been a feature of crimes such as terrorism, bank hacks, the distribution of unsolicited obscene messages; and disinformation which could sow public disorder, she added.

Mr. Gatchalian said that the bill will seek to deter text scams, bomb threats, the transmission of ransom demands, and the use of phones to detonate bombs.

A total of 155 countries have adopted laws that require the registration of SIM cards — including countries with strong data privacy regimes such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, and much of the European Union, Ms. Poe said.

“This bill is not the be-all and end-all in our fight against any form of digital crime. It is only one of the measures that we need to put in place as Filipinos increasingly turn to digital banking and payment channels,” she said, noting that another bill regulating bank accounts, e-wallets and other financial accounts or SB 2380 was filed Monday.

“The bill that I filed seeks to penalize money mules — or those who electronically receive, acquire, or transfer money or proceeds derived from a cybercrime,” she added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan