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Overdue registration

The approval of House Bill No. 5793 or the SIM Card Registration Act was lauded as instrumental in the effort to deter suspicious texters and scammers, as well as curbing terrorist acts.

The House of Representatives 181-6 vote for the measure the requires subscriber identity module (SIM) card registration to protect public interest will make it much easier for authorities to prosecute criminal acts arising from the use of mobile phones.

Valenzuela City Representative Wes Gatchalian noted that out of the country’s 152.4 million mobile subscribers, “only 3 percent are registered postpaid users” while 97 percent, or 147 million users, “utilize unregistered prepaid numbers.”

“We change SIM cards as fast as we change our soiled shirts. Alarmingly, this seeming boundless stream of supply has become a magnet for nefarious and illegal activities,” Gatchalian said.

“We want to protect the interest of the public who has fallen victims not only of this recent slew of fake job offers but for other crimes that continue to use unregistered SIM cards to spread misleading or false information, orders of fake online food/package deliveries, obscene/threatening messages, and facilitate criminal acts of terrorism,” he added.

The Philippines remains among the 20 percent of countries in the world without a mandatory SIM card registration law. 155 countries have already adopted the registration of SIM cards.

Rep. Manny Lopez of Manila, a co-author of the bill, said the absence of a law requiring the disclosure of personal information prior to purchasing a SIM card makes it “very difficult, if not impossible, for authorities to prosecute criminal acts arising from the use of mobile phones.”

Filipinos have enjoyed and exploited the benefits of anonymity that come with easily acquired unregistered SIM cards for far too long and that has led to the rise of troll farms and various scams, while at the same time becoming indispensable for criminal and terrorist activities. Requiring registration will give users no choice but to be responsible when it comes to the use of SIM cards and the many services that are now available in this fast-digitalizing world.

House Bill No. 5793 or the SIM Card Registration Act will be necessary ingredient for Filipinos to embrace and adapt to a digital lifestyle that can be made safer and more secure through the simple one-time act of registration.*

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