A lawmaker has proposed to record the identity of all buyers of prepaid subscriber identity module (SIM) packs for cellular telephones to aid law enforcement agencies in investigating the illegal activities of criminals.
Quezon City representative Winston ?Winnie? Castelo filed House Bill 3928, which requires public telecommunication companies to keep a record of these buyers.
Local mobile operators have opposed similar proposals in the past.
Castelo said lawless users of cellular phone numbers with an unregistered SIM allow them to consummate their nefarious schemes undetected.
“By taking advantage of the facility of cellular phones with unregistered SIM, criminals practically go invisible in carrying out their malevolent plots of communicating their evil designs to co-conspirators, communicating threats or sending SMS messages of ransom demands,” Castelo said.
Castelo said con artists send hoax messages on winnings from commercial promos to dupe unsuspecting victims of their hard-earned money.
Castelo said the proposed law will equip law enforcement agencies with the tools necessary to track down such criminals by enabling them to trace users of cellular phone numbers.
“By recording the identity of all buyers of prepaid SIM and requiring public telecommunications entities (PTE) to keep record of these buyers, law enforcement agencies shall be able to hunt down crime perpetrators who take refuge in anonymity,” Castelo said.
Under the measure, telcos are mandated to ensure that the identity of buyers of their prepaid SIM cards is properly recorded and their addresses verified through the presentation of valid identification cards.
If the sale of said SIM cards is done through agents, PTEs should ensure that said agents submit to them the verified names and addresses of the buyers within 15 days from date of sale.
The bill directs the carriers to submit to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) within 30 days from the date of effectivity of the law, a verified list of their current authorized dealers/agents nationwide.
Moreover, telcos should submit to the NTC an updated list on a quarterly basis. The agency is also tasked with the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations of the legislation.
Under the bill, upon the issuance of a proper court order or a valid request from a government law enforcement agency showing proof that a particular cellular phone number was used in the commission of a crime or for an illegal purpose, the service provider shall be mandated to reveal the identity and personal circumstances of the user of such number.
The bill imposes a penalty of P50,000 to P300,000 and six months imprisonment on any operator found guilty of violating the provisions of the proposed law.