September 30, 2022 | 00:00
MANILA, Philippines — Mobile phone users who fail to register their subscriber identity module (SIM) risk being disabled by their respective telecommunications providers once President Marcos signs the bill into law. SIM card registration.
Navotas City Rep. Toby Tiangco, who chairs the House Information and Communications Technology Committee, pointed this out in an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News Wednesday night.
“If you don’t register it within 180 days (from the enactment of the law), your SIM card will be deactivated by the phone company. This is what the law says,” Tiangco said.
Shortly before the interview, the Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the report of the bicameral conference committee on the bill mandating the registration of all users of SIM cards in telecommunications devices.
What was ratified by both houses of Congress was the consolidated version of the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill 1310 and House Bill 14, which removed the word “map” from the title. to cover all SIM card variants.
Tiangco said telecom operators would be mandated to provide an online platform where cellphone users would enter their SIM and other identifying information – specifically name, date of birth and address. – as they appear on valid government-issued identification cards or identification documents.
“The data provided during registration will not be transmitted to the government. This will be withheld by the telephone company,” he said.
Telecom companies will only be forced to disclose SIM card registration data if a court order is issued to do so, he added.
As a safeguard under the measure, telecom operators will be held liable if they are found to have leaked SIM card registration information negligently or intentionally, with fines ranging from 500 000 to 4 million pesos.
Lawmakers pushing for tougher SIM card registration and regulation — including Senator Grace Poe who led the Senate contingent on the bicameral panel — hope their efforts will bear fruit this time in light of the unwanted text messages that proliferated, which even carried the private details or information of mobile phone users, including their names.
By requiring ownership and registration of SIM cards, they hope to stamp out mobile phone-assisted criminal activity.
Currently, only SIM cards for postpaid mobile or cellular phone subscriptions need to be registered, so prepaid SIM card users involved in any illicit activity using their mobile devices easily escape liability. .
The proposed law requires Filipinos to register their SIM cards before they are used and activated by telecom operators.
Those who already have a prepaid SIM card have 180 days to register with their telecom providers who, in turn, have 60 days to set up registration facilities in remote areas from entry into force of the law.
President Martin Romualdez, who chaired the House plenary session, said the “SIM registration law” he drafted as HB 14 could become the first law to be signed and signed into law by the President.
HB 14, whose co-sponsors include Romualdez’s wife Yedda of the Tingog party list, fellow Rep. Jude Acidre and Rep. Sandro Marcos of Ilocos Norte, is the first piece of legislation to pass approval. of the bicam of the 19th Congress.
“This law will not only help promote end-user accountability for SIM cards for electronic devices, but will also provide our law enforcement with the tools to solve crimes involving telecommunications devices,” Romualdez said.
Tiangco told “The Chiefs” that while the measure aims to identify cellphone users who commit crimes, it “couldn’t be 100% effective.” Still, it’s the “first step” to deterring crimes aided by the use of SIM cards, he said.
He added that individuals like intelligence officers, journalists and whistleblowers – who may consider blanket anonymity in their use of communication tools as part and parcel of performing their duties – would not be exempt. of the measure once it becomes law.
Under HB 14, each public telecommunications entity (PTE) must maintain a register of all subscribers and their assigned SIM cards. They must also submit to the National Telecommunications Commission a list of their authorized vendors/agents.
If a violation is committed by a PTE, the president and other responsible executives of the telecom operator will be held accountable and fined up to PTE 300,000 for the first violation; up to 500,000 pesos on the second offense and up to 1 million pesos on the third and any subsequent offences.
If the offender is an authorized seller, his activity will be suspended and a fine of 5,000 to 50,000 pula will be imposed.
If the offender is an agent or employee of an enforcement agency, he or she will be removed from office and fined, without prejudice to the filing of appropriate criminal, civil and administrative proceedings.