House plenary set to vote on SIM card registration bill

The House information and communications technology (ICT) comitte recently endorsed for plenary approval a bill requiring the registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.

ICT committee chairman Victor Yap said that House Bill 7233, the consolidated version which substitutes 14 measures would establish a SIM card registration mechanism to help law enforcement agencies solve cases and stop acts of terrorism.

“This bill will help investigators track criminals who use phones for illegal activities, as well as curb incidents such as bullying, fraud, inciting of violence and the loss of phones through theft,” said Yap.

According to the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group, the use of unregistered SIM card numbers in crimes, particularly in cybercrime, is a frequent hurdle in police investigations due to the anonymity it provides its users.

“With the mandatory SIM card registration, law enforcers would now be able to identify offenders,” Yap said.

The Tarlac lawmaker added that the bill would also help the government provide better services to the people and support its goal of financial inclusion.

“Once this bill passes into law, SIM card users won’t have to submit personal information and proof of identification to their mobile operators just to access ‘mobile money’ services. They’ll be able to easily make use of traditional retail financial services such as remittances, payments, savings, credit and insurance among others using their phones,” he said.

Under HB 7233, direct sellers of SIM cards would be required to register the full names, date of birth, gender and address of buyers, as well as the cell phone and serial number of the SIM card they purchased. The address listed out by consumers must be the same as the address listed in a valid government-issued ID with photo.

Mobile phone service providers would also be required to maintain a SIM Card Register of their subscribers containing information required for registration, which would be submitted to the Department of ICT every six months.

Yap also dissuaded fears about consumers’ privacy, stating that a confidentiality clause has been included in the proposed measure to ensure that the personal information provided won’t be used for other purposes.

“Technological advancements in mobile phone services may have provided Filipinos with easier means of communication, but it has also exposed our people to unprecedented security risks. As the industry continues to innovate, so too should our laws,” he said.

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