House lines up bills on SIM card registration, telecom security

The ICT committee of the House of Representatives held a hearing on Wednesday, May 10, to tackle measures that prohibit the use of telecommunications devices for illicit and nefarious activities.

Photo credit: www.simvina.com.vn

Photo credit: www.simvina.com.vn

Among the bills tackled was HB No. 929, which provides for a “No Calls and No Text Registration System.” As its name implies, the bill provides remedies on dealing with unwanted telephone and mobile communications.

“There are more than 100 million mobile phone users in the Philippines. As years go by, more and more criminals exploit telecommunications technology to pursue their malicious deeds. Text scams, whether done for a crime as petty as load theft, or via a syndicate to extort money has been prevalent for the last couple of years. These are just some of the issues that we as legislators, must address,” said Tarlac representative and ICT committee chair Victor Yap.

The proposed bills also penalize persons and entities that send messages containing commercial offerings, advertisements and political ads without the consent of the receiver.

Further, HB No. 2874 filed by Yap prohibits repeated and unwanted contact by unknown persons through telephone and mobile devices.

“Our citizens should be free from receiving unsolicited, unnecessary, and unwanted communication without their consent. We should enact a law that punish repeated and unwanted contact by offenders through telephone, mobile phone or telephone related services. The use of communication technology to defraud our citizens must be dealt with severely,” Yap said.

Taking a step further, the committee initiated deliberation on a proposed law that will regulate the sale and distribution of SIM cards. A similar measure was also approved on third and final reading during the 16th Congress.

The move follows the lead of Singapore, Indonesia, and other countries that have institutionalized the registration of SIM cards and succeeded in its efforts of regulation.

According to Yap, “some mobile phone users change their SIM cards as often as they change their clothes. Any person can buy and dispose of a SIM card from any mobile outlet in a matter of minutes. This seeming unlimited stream of supply has been exploited by criminals and ill-intentioned individuals to spread their nefarious and illegal activities. We hear countless victims of text scams and fraudulent demands from unknown mobile numbers.”

The “SIM Card Regulation Act” will establish a registry or database of validated information of its authorized owner. The ICT committee said this system will deter the commission of illegal acts through mobile phones and aid law enforcement agencies in tracking down criminals who use telecommunications devices in the commission of a crime.

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