Monday, June 17, 2024

Senate passes mandatory SIM registration on final reading

The Senate on Tuesday, September 27, again gave its nod to the bill requiring the registration of subscriber identity modules (SIMs) to curb mobile-phone aided crimes in the country.

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Senate Bill (SB) No. 1310 or the proposed “SIM Registration Act” hurdled the upper chamber on third and final reading with 20 affirmative votes, and no negative votes or abstention from senators.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, is the first legislative measure passed by the upper chamber in the 19th Congress.

Re-filed in the 19th Congress, the measure seeks to regulate the registration and use of SIMs by mandating subscribers to register with telecommunication entities before SIMs are activated. Existing subscribers must also register or risk deactivating or retiring their SIMs.

Registration includes the submission of full name, date of birth and address of end-users, as well as valid government-issued identification cards to verify their identity.

SB 1310 also prohibits “spoofing,” or the act of transmitting misleading or inaccurate information about the source of phone call or text messages to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value.

The bill also penalizes the sale of stolen SIMs.

Telcos, on the other hand, would be tasked to keep the subscribers’ information in a database, while the Department of Information and Communications Technology shall conduct an annual audit of their compliance with information security standards.

All submitted information are “absolutely confidential”, but may be disclosed if a competent authority subpoenas them for an investigation of a crime, or a malicious, fraudulent or unlawful act committed using a specific mobile number.

“Finally, we can now do something aside from just ignoring, deleting or blocking the numbers with fraudulent or spam messages,” Poe said.

“We have now in our hands the means to unmask criminals who have been hiding for so long under the protection of anonymity, and to bring them to justice,” Poe added.


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