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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Oct 19, 2022

SIM Registration Act

Technology has brought a lot of advantages in our way of life. For instance, the use of mobile phones allows us to communicate faster and access information easier. However, as in many technological advancements, there is a negative side, especially when it is abused or misused.

The proliferation of text scams, misinformation, and spam messages, some of which even bear the name of the recipient, has become alarming. How did these scammers and spammers get the number and personal information of mobile phone users? It makes us feel that our privacy has been violated. Yet we do not know by whom, because these perpetrators can easily buy a SIM card and get rid of it afterwards when they are done with their modus.

This is what Republic Act No. 11934, or the SIM Card Registration Act, aims to address.

Under the new law, all existing subscriber identity module (SIM) holders must register their SIMs with their respective public telecommunications entities (PTEs) within 180 days from the effectivity of the Act, otherwise it will be deactivated. Meanwhile, new SIM cards will be in a deactivated state. The SIM will be activated upon the end-user’s completion of the registration process. If there are changes in the information of the SIM card holder, in case of loss of the SIM, or if the owner wants to deactivate the SIM, the end-user must inform the PTE. In case of death of an end-user, the immediate family, relatives, or guardian should report to the concerned PTE.

The PTEs must ensure that data from the SIM registration are secured and protected at all times. PTEs can only disclose information obtained in the registration when a subpoena has been issued by a competent authority in relation to an investigation that a specific mobile number was used in the commission of a crime or it was used to commit an unlawful act, and the complainant cannot ascertain the identity of the perpetrator.

PTEs can also disclose said information in accordance with the provisions of the Data Privacy Act of 2012; in compliance with a court order or legal process upon finding of probable cause; or if there is a written consent of the subscriber.

Aside from these circumstances, a PTE, its agents or employees, must not disclose any data of an end-user obtained during the registration of SIM card, otherwise there will be penalty of a fine between ₱500,000 and four million pesos.

Meanwhile, if a person provides false or fictitious information and/or fraudulent identification documents, the penalty will be imprisonment between six months and two years, and/or a fine between ₱100,000 and ₱300,000.

For spoofing — which under this law is defined as transmitting inaccurate information about the source of a phone call or text message to defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value — the penalty will be imprisonment of at least six years, and/or a fine of ₱200,000.

The sale of stolen SIM cards will also be penalized — imprisonment between six months and two years, and/or a fine of ₱100,000 to ₱300,000.

This law aims to protect citizens from fraudulent acts perpetrated through phone calls and text messages. But in order to do this, everyone must cooperate in the registration of their SIM cards. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and the National Privacy Commission (NPC), among other agencies, are formulating the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law. The concerns of citizens, such as making the registration process easy and convenient, including for OFWs, and the number of SIM cards that a person can register under his/her name, are among the considerations in crafting the IRR.

While the registration could take some time, especially since there are about 160 million SIMs currently being used, the DICT hopes the process can be accomplished within 180 days, but if necessary, it can be extended for 120 more days. The sooner we are able to accomplish the registration the better, so that we can start experiencing the effect and protection of the law.

This does not mean, however, that we can already be complacent. Even with the protection of the law, we should continue to be vigilant against fraudulent phone calls and text messages. After all, the best protection we always have against scammers is not letting our guard down.

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