House approves bill making SIM card registration mandatory

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A bill mandating the registration of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards to their corresponding telecommunications companies has been approved by the House of Representatives on final reading on December 6.

House Bill 5793, better known as the “SIM Card Registration Act,” aims to deter crimes, such as scams, bomb threats, and other fraudulent activities, using mobile phones with prepaid and post-paid SIM cards.

The measure requires each public telecommunication entity (PTEs) or direct seller of SIM cards to maintain a SIM card register or record identifying the owners of the modules.

The PTE or direct seller must then require users to present a valid ID for proof of identity prior to purchasing a SIM card and necessitate them to accomplish a control-numbered registration form to be issued by the network of the purchased card.

Buyers who fail to do so will be subject to the automatic deactivation of their SIM cards.

To ensure the confidentiality of data retrieved from users, the PTEs and direct sellers are strictly prohibited from disclosing any information on their record unless upon subpoena or lawful order from a competent court or written request from law enforcement agency concerning an ongoing investigation.

PTEs are mandated to keep their SIM Card Registers up to date and give the details to the Department of Information and Technology every six months.

The bill’s counterpart measure in the Senate is still under interpellation. If approved, the legislation also has the potential to provide SIM card users with access to e-government and other financial services, according to Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who filed a similar bill in the 16th┬áCongress.

Senator Grace Poe sponsored the same measure in September this year and said that a total of 155 countries have adopted laws requiring the registration of SIM cards, including those with strong data privacy policies, such as South Korea, Japan, and Australia.

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