What to expect now that SIM card registration for all mobile phone users is mandatory
Thanks to innovations in communication technology, millions of Filipinos today thrive through enhanced mobile connectivity. While these services have made life easier, new security threats are also emerging alongside them.
In 2022 alone, security threats are relentless. Many Filipinos fall victim to phishing scams, for instance, through short messaging services. Because of the anonymity of SIM card holders, it is much harder for authorities to track down perpetrators carrying out these scams and hold them accountable. As mobile-based cybercrimes continue to rise, doubling down on cybersecurity has become an effort for both private companies and individuals.
The Philippine government feels strongly about this issue, too, enough to pass a key piece of legislation called the SIM Card Registration Bill. To get a lowdown on the SIM Card Registration Act, scroll through.
The SIM Card Registration Law: All You Need to Know
Republic Act No. 11934, or the SIM Card Registration Act, was signed into law by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on October 10, 2022.
In a nutshell, the SIM Card Registration Act aims to provide accountability for those using SIM cards and aid law enforcement in tracking perpetrators of crimes committed through phones. This law is seen as one way to boost government initiatives against scams perpetrated through text and online messages, which have become more prevalent in recent years.
Following the law’s passing, users must register their new SIM cards with the relevant Public Telecommunications Entity (PTE) to activate them. Meanwhile, all existing SIM subscribers must register with PTEs within 180 days of the law’s implementation.
Failure to register the SIM within the prescribed period will result in automatic deactivation, and telecommunication companies can only reactivate this after proper registration has been completed. Users must also present valid government-issued IDs or similar documents with a photograph to verify their identity.
Minors are also eligible to register a SIM card for use, but only in the name of a parent or guardian consenting to the registration.
The law details penalties for violations ranging from ₱100,000 to ₱1 million. Here are some of the offenses under the SIM Card Registration Act:
Failure to register a SIM card
Violation of confidentiality
Registering a SIM card under false identities or with forged identification documents
Impersonating a registered SIM card owner
Reselling a stolen SIM card
Selling or transferring a registered SIM card without first registering it
It should be noted that this law removed the inclusion of social media as part of SIM card registration because of concerns about data privacy.
Why Does the SIM Registration Law Matter?
Mandatory SIM registration adds a layer of security that benefits all Filipinos, as this significantly reduces spam and scam SMS messages. With this law in place, criminals can no longer take advantage of the anonymity provided by prepaid SIM cards.
Globe shows its full support to the government in mandating the SIM registration process and considers this a critical step in combating criminal activity. The SIM Registration Law will also aid Globe in its efforts to combat spam and scams carried out via SMS.
Regulating the sale of SIM cards can also help telecommunication companies establish their database. According to the law, PTEs must submit a list of authorized sellers or dealers to the National Telecommunications Commission within 30 days, with an updated list submitted every quarter of the year. PTEs should also update their records to account for people’s changes in mobile numbers.
The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has advised against using a centralized server or database as it increases the risks of a security breach. To encourage Filipinos to register their SIM cards, the NPC assured that PTEs could only use the database to process, activate, or deactivate a SIM or subscription.
In the case of criminal activity involving mobile phones or text messaging, the court may order telecommunication companies to provide data for identity tracing.
Stopping Cybercrime Together
The SIM Card Registration Law emphasizes accountability in text messaging, encouraging people to use communication services responsibly. Victims can also now report phishing scams with high hopes of apprehending the perpetrators.
Up next: improve your understanding of phishing scams and be aware of the best cybersecurity practices to steer clear of cybercrime.