Not as SIMple as it sounds

As the first legislative measure signed into law by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the SIM card registration act has not gone unscathed. Naysayers uphold the status quo, while those who are eager to embrace the digital life support the move geared toward protection.

On one hand, requiring all SIM cards to be registered has been mainly to “curb mobile-phone scams and other crimes,” cases of which have disturbingly risen in the past few years.

Yet as with the issue of the national ID system, people have raised a cry against possible privacy breaches coming from personal information that will be culled about an individual acquiring one little SIM card.

The new law, according to reports, “mandates telecommunication companies to maintain a register of SIM card subscribers, and submit a list of authorized sellers to the government.”

Of course, the whole issue is mainly hinged on the pros and cons of technology. The question uppermost in most people’s minds is this: will it really stop the scamming and hacking, or are we being too hasty with a law stemming from sheer annoyance over nonstop spam texts?

Under the new law, a valid identification document must now be presented to buy a SIM card, and existing ones need to be registered. Indeed, those with dastardly plans may think twice about using fake identities. Then again, everyone knows people can get really inventive to get away with an illegal act!

Either way, the problem, it seems, is people are just averse to intrusion of any kind — whether this is in the form of unwanted mass texts or being asked too many questions about oneself to go on record in some network that could likely be hacked, too, anyway!

Like most laws, this new one is related to other laws that could derail the desired outcome because they are not properly enforced.

A February 2022 article in another broadsheet cites cybersecurity policy analyst Mary Grace Mirandilla that “registering SIM cards ‘has the potential to put the security, privacy, and welfare of citizens at risk,’ citing experiences from other developing countries and the European Union, thereby posing more risks than benefits.”

This sort of date, she added, is “an attractive target for cyber attackers.” Also, here is the kicker: “100 percent security cannot be guaranteed.”

There we go. How do you feel about the ability of our authorities to protect us from such crimes, or to deliver justice to those who had been victimized by such crimes?

Here lies the root of all problems: Trust.

As in all human relationships — and that includes the ties that bind people and government, customers and brand, or country to country — this crucial factor lies at the bottom of most issues that involves human beings.

Without trust, even laws will not prosper because the fabric of trust is already worn. Abuses committed in the past have left citizens grasping at straws when it comes to their own protection. The challenge for the Marcos Jr. administration is to assure Filipinos that it truly has its best interests at heart — that it will right what had been wronged, neglected, forgotten, dismissed, or taken for granted, and establish systems that will ensure these will be maintained.

With this first measure signed into law, we shall see.

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