VOTING 20-0-0, the Senate approved on third and final reading Senate Bill (SB) 1310 or the proposed SIM (subscriber identity module) Registration Act.
SB 1310 requires the registration of SIM cards to curb cyber crimes such as identity theft and the proliferation of spam and phishing messages.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mary Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services, is the first legislative measure passed by the Senate 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 now have 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,” the senator added.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, who co-sponsored the bill, said the SIM Registration Bill offers both an “immediate” and “long-term” solution to electronic communication-aided criminal activities, which are mostly characterized by security and privacy breaches.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said, “The SIM registration will enable authorities to establish the user’s identity if necessary and we expect this to address the rising incidence of crimes committed unabatedly due to lack of accountability in the use of SIM cards.”
Re-filed in the 19th Congress, the measure seeks to regulate the registration and use of SIMs by mandating subscribers to register with telecommunication entities before SIMs are activated.
Existing subscribers must also register or risk deactivating or retiring their SIMs.
Registration includes the submission of full name, date of birth and address of end-users, as well as valid government-issued identification cards to verify their identity.
SB 1310 also prohibits “spoofing,” or the act of transmitting misleading or inaccurate information about the source of phone calls or text messages 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.