wes gatchalian

Congress OK of SIM Card Registration Act lauded

February 3, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 736 views

DEPUTY Speaker for Trade and Industry and Valenzuela 1st District Rep. Wes Gatchalian has lauded the timely ratification of the bill proposing the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act, which he says can now help law enforcement agencies in tracking down delinquents who use mobile phones with SIM cards to pursue nefarious activities.

The House of Representatives ratified the Bicameral Conference Report of House Bill (HB) No. 5793 and Senate Bill (SB) 2395, or “An Act Eradicating Mobile Phone, Internet Or Electronic Communication-Aided Criminal Activities, Mandating For This Purpose Ownership Registration Of All SIM Cards For Electronic Devices And Social Media Accounts.”

The bill is now awaiting President Duterte’s signature.

SIM card registration proposals have been filed since the 14th Congress.

“Indeed, we are grateful for the avowed support of the present leadership in fulfilling its legislative mandate to ratify this landmark measure, knowing the timely and vital role of information and modern communications technology at this time”, the legislator from Valenzuela said.

Gatchalian, the principal author of the bill, said that, in order to deter the proliferation of SIM card, internet or electronic communication-aided crimes, such as but not limited to: terrorism; text scams; unsolicited, indecent or obscene messages; bank fraud; libel; anonymous online defamation; trolling; hate speech, spread of digital disinformation or fake news as defined under pertinent laws, all public telecommunication entities (PTE) shall require the registration of SIM cards as pre-requisite to the sale and the activation of the subscription.

Under the bill, all existing SIM card subscribers with active services shall register with their respective PTEs within 180 days from the effectivity of this proposal.

An extension period of no longer than 120 days shall be allowed upon a valid written request to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

The failure of the subscriber to register shall authorize the PTE to automatically deactivate or retire the SIM card number. It is likewise the responsibility of the SIM card owner to report its loss or of any change in the information after registration.

“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. By requiring the registration of SIM cards, we promote accountability in its use and provide law enforcement agencies the tool to resolve crimes which involve its utilization,” Gatchalian said.

According to the lawmaker, even the telcos themselves as well as courier and delivery riders are supportive of the push for mandatory SIM card registration.

The registration required under the measure shall be implemented at no cost to the end users or the third-party resellers.

Gatchalian further stressed that all data gathered pertinent to the registration shall be kept in compliance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and any breach or unauthorized disclosure of information shall be imposed the penalties prescribed in the bill.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), in close consultation with the PTE’s, social media providers, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and the National Privacy Commission shall be among the government agencies which shall formulate the necessary guidelines in the proper implementation of the real-name registration program based on the parameters set by the measure.