by Celina Joyce D. Lazaro, NOVEMBER 2022
Did you know that here in the Philippines Islacom is the first to offer commercial GSM service way back in 1994 while Smart was first established in 1991 by Orlando Vea (President/CEO of Sun Cellular after PLDT brought Digitel) and started commercial service in December 1993. Innovation in communication technology has arisen throughout these years. Today, millions of Filipinos are using mobile phones and smartphones in their daily life. While these services have made our life easier, new security threats are also emerging alongside.
In 2022 alone, security threats are relentless. Many Filipinos fall victim to phishing scams through short messaging services. Due to the anonymity of SIM card holders, it is much harder for authorities to track down the users that are sending out these scams. As mobile-based cybercrimes continue to rise, doubling down on cybersecurity has become an effort for both private companies and individuals.
The Philippine government shows its strong will to address this issue and pass a key piece of legislation called the SIM Card Registration Bill. Republic Act No. 11934 or the SIM Card Registration Act, was signed into law by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on October 10, 2022. The SIM Card Registration Act aims to provide accountability for those using SIM cards and help law enforcement in tracking offenders of crimes through phones. This law targets to lessen the scams committed through text and online messages. The mandatory SIM registration adds a layer of protection and security that will benefit every SIM card user. This will drastically reduce spam and scam SMS messages. With this law, criminals can no longer take advantage of the privacy provided by prepaid SIM cards.
Under the Sim Card Registration Act, every public telecommunication entity or direct seller shall be required to demand end users of SIM cards present a valid identification document to validate their identities.
Among the information required from end users are:
- Full name
- Complete address
- Date of birth
- Cellphone number of the SIM card and serial number
Some of the valid documents they can present are:
- Driver’s License
- Philippine National ID
- SSS/GSIS Card
- UMID Card
- Senior Citizen’s Card
- NBI Clearance
- Police Clearance
- Firearms License
- Voter’s ID
- TIN ID
- PRC ID
- IBP ID
- OWWA ID
- Government Office ID
- PWD Card
- School ID (for minors)
The law requires public telecommunications entities (PTEs) to maintain a SIM Card Register of their subscribers, containing the required information. They must also submit a verified list of their authorized dealers and agents nationwide to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), with updates every quarter of the year.
To cover all users of SIM cards in this act, PTEs are mandated to ensure the registration of existing prepaid SIM card subscribers within a prescribed period. An earlier version of the law prescribed 180 days. Failure to comply results in the grant of authority for telecommunications entities to automatically deactivate services to the specific SIM card subscriber.
About the writer:
Celina Joyce D. Lazaro. Simply Celine. Graduated as a Computer Engineer in Bulacan State University and current position as Toll and Traffic Systems Associate. Bubbly but shy. Finds peace in quiet places. Also an optimist.