Senate approves mandatory SIM card registration bill on third reading

The Senate on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the proposed measure seeking to mandate the registration of subscriber identity modules (SIM) in the country to curb mobile-phone-aided crimes.

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

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

“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,” she added.

Under the bill, existing subscribers will be required to register their names to telecommunication entities by presenting valid government IDs and documents in registering their SIMs.

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

The proposed measure also prohibits “spoofing,” or the act of transmitting misleading or inaccurate information about the source of a phone call or text message 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 is “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.

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