Wednesday, May 29, 2024

House passes on final reading bill on SIM card registration

The House of Representatives on Monday, Dec. 6, approved on third and final reading House Bill 5793 or the proposed “Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act.”

The bill, which garnered 181 affirmative and six negative votes, as well as zero abstention, seeks to help law enforcement agencies in tracking down delinquents who use mobile phones with post-paid and pre-paid SIM cards to pursue nefarious activities such as kidnapping for ransom and petty crimes like theft.

The proposed law provides for the establishment of a system of Sale and Registration of SIM Cards for all users by registering pertinent data in a form set up for the purpose.

Civil society groups, however, have opposed the proposed legislation as a knee-jerk reaction in an attempt to address the various crimes allegedly being perpetuated through mobile phones. They said it could also create a bigger security problem once the database of SIM cards is breached.

In 2018, the Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) even issued a position paper against mandatory SIM card registration, saying the rationale behind the move is flawed and inconsistent with the experiences of many jurisdictions that have such a system.

“In a number of instances, its weakness in curbing terrorism has been exposed due to the ability of criminals to circumvent regulation,” the non-profit group said. “It even caused the emergence of black markets where stolen or counterfeit SIM cards are sold, as well as an increase in handset theft incidents, as demand for untraceable phones spiked.”

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