Philippines’ long-awaited SIM registration law is now live

SIM registration
Image by tkacchuk | Bigstockphoto

In response to the rising incidence of text spam and scam messages, the Philippines government has finally officially mandated the registration of all SIM cards in the country.

On Monday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act No. 11934, also known as the SIM Card Registration Act. The law requires all subscribers to provide their personal information, including their name, address, and date of birth, in order to register their SIM card.

Once in full effect, the law will require telcos and direct sellers to ask for a valid ID before selling SIM cards. It also gives the government the authority to deactivate any unregistered SIM card.

The law also requires telecommunications companies to keep subscriber SIM cards on file. They must also provide the full name and address of card owners in response to a subpoena or court order.

SIM registration vs text scams

While SIM card registration is a controversial topic in many markets, the measure is a welcome change for many Filipinos who have been the victim of text spam or scam messages.

With the new law in place, many believe will be easier for authorities to track down the perpetrators of these crimes and bring them to justice.

Recently, the rise of text scams in the Philippines has been on the rise, with many unsuspecting victims losing money to scammers. Telcos have been under pressure to do something about the problem, as scammers have been using leaked customer data to make their messages look more genuine.

However, telcos are also requesting more time to prepare for the law’s implementation, as they need to make sure that their systems are compliant with the new requirements. They are also requesting for the government to fast track the national ID system’s rollout, as this will be essential in verifying the identity of subscribers.

National ID card system needed

“Our position has been clear from the beginning, a national ID system must be in place to ensure the safe and successful implementation of this new law,” Froilan Castelo, general counsel, Globe Telecom Inc. said in a statement on Monday.

The GSMA – of which Globe is a member – has expressed similar concerns in policy papers, saying that prepaid SIM card registration mandates must be accompanied by a solid legal framework for consumer privacy or data protection. The GSMA has also observed that there is little evidence to date that SIM card registration laws are effective in curbing terrorism, crime and fraud – which are the usual justifications for implementing them.

Both the national ID and the SIM card registration law raise privacy concerns for many Filipinos. The Philippines’ Data Privacy Act of 2012 protects the personal information of individuals, but there is still some debate as to whether or not the law goes far enough.

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