House approves bill for mandatory SIM card registration

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On final reading Monday, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would require the registration of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards.

The chamber passed House Bill No. 5793, or the “SIM Card Registration Act,” with 181 affirmative votes, six negative votes, and no abstentions.

The bill aims to assist law enforcement agencies in tracking down lawless criminals who use mobile phones with postpaid and prepaid SIM cards to engage in nefarious activities such as kidnapping for ransom and petty crimes such as theft.

To determine identity, every public telecommunication entity (PTE) or direct seller is required under the measure to ask the end-user of a SIM card to produce proper identification with a photo.

The PTE or direct vendor must need the end-user to complete and sign a control-numbered SIM card registration form supplied by the respected PTE.

All PTEs must keep a SIM card register of their users and update it every six months with the Department of Information and Technology Communications (DICT).

It includes a confidentiality clause that prohibits the disclosure of any subscriber information unless a competent court issues a subpoena or a lawful order, or a law enforcement agency issues a written request in relation to an ongoing investigation, and a specific number requested is used in the commission of a crime.

It also requires current prepaid SIM card phone users to register. ​

Failure to comply with this condition within the specified time frame will result in the immediate deactivation of services.

A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.

End-users of pre-paid SIM cards will be required to produce a valid ID and photo, as well as sign a control-numbered registration form issued by the service provider of the acquired SIM card, under Senate Bill No. 176, or the proposed SIM Card Registration Act.

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