The Senate unanimously adopted the bill requiring the registration of subscriber identification module (SIM) cards on third and final reading Thursday, December 16.
Senate Bill (SB) 2395, also known as the proposed SIM Card Registration Act, was approved by a vote of 22-0-0. The bill aims to combat criminal activities aided by mobile phones, the internet, or other electronic communication devices, such as terrorism, text scams, unsolicited indecent or obscene messages, bank fraud, and disinformation, according to a statement released by the Senate.
“The measure establishes another layer of security protection for Filipinos which will hopefully deter criminals from perpetrating their wicked plans. It is high time that we beef up our own infrastructures to address these threats to security,” said Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services and sponsor of the bill.
The law will force public telecommunication organizations (PTEs) to demand SIM card registration as a prerequisite to their sale and activation in order to prevent the spread of SIM card, internet, or electronic communication-aided crimes.
Subscribers will be expected to individually submit a registration form to PTEs, which will include their full name, date of birth, and address. They must also show a valid government ID or other identification documents to prove their identity. Minors, on the other hand, must be accompanied by a parent or guardian while purchasing and registering SIM cards.
Sellers could refuse the sale of SIM cards if buyers fail to comply with the requirements.
All existing and active subscribers shall register with their PTEs within a year from its effectivity, the bill stated. Failure to do so within the prescribed period will authorize the PTEs to deactivate the SIM card number.
Aside from the mandatory SIM card registration, SB 2395 was also amended, as introduced by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, to mandate social media account providers to require users to register their real names and phone numbers before the creation of their social media accounts.
The bill proposes fines or imprisonment for failure to comply with the mandated registration, breach of confidentiality, use of fictitious identities, spoofing, and unauthorized sale of SIM cards.
“I would like to reiterate at this point that the policy of SIM card registration in the country will be implemented with full regard to our right to privacy. As a champion of privacy rights, we ensured that the measure was crafted in a manner that accords the highest respect for the Filipinos’ right to confidentiality. Such right is sacred now, and it will remain as such even after this bill becomes law and is enforced,” Poe assured.
“May the passage of this bill pave the way for a safer and more secure mobile-use and cyberspace in the country,” she added.