THE SENATE on Tuesday unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill mandating the registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards for electronic devices.
“Finally, we can do more than just ignoring, deleting or blocking the numbers with fraudulent or spam messages,” Senator Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares, primary author and sponsor of the measure, said in a mix of English and Filipino during the plenary session.
“We now have in our hands the means to unmask criminals who have been hiding for so long under the protection of anonymity and to bring them to justice,” she added. “We now have a way to send them to jail and make them pay a large fine.”
With 20 affirmative votes, Senate Bill 1310, or the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration Act, was passed.
A counterpart bill in the House of Representatives was given final approval last week. The proposed measure will now be sent to the bicameral committee for reconciliation, and the final version will be transmitted to the Office of the President for approval.
The proposed law was passed by the previous Congress but former President Rodrigo R. Duterte vetoed the bill after senators included social media accounts in the coverage.
Under the current Senate version, all end-users — individual or an organization — that purchase a SIM will have to register with the telecommunication service provider.
All existing SIM subscribers must also register within 180 days from the effectivity of the law. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) may extend this to up to 120 days.
Failure to comply will authorize immediate deactivation of the SIM number. Deactivated SIM cards may only be revived after registration.
Telecommunication companies are required to maintain a database of the electronic registration forms, subject to privacy provisions.
The DICT is mandated to conduct an annual audit on the companies’ compliance to information security standards.
Data may only be divulged in compliance with laws, upon a court order, or with the written consent of the subscriber.
PENALTIES Any breach of confidentiality will be punishable with imprisonment or a monetary penalty of up to P4 million.
Service providers, their agents and authorized resellers may also be held criminally liable for selling or transferring SIM cards without complying with the registration requirements.
Individuals selling or transferring a registered SIM card without complying with the required registration will be imprisoned for up to six years and fined with a maximum amount of P300,000.
Failure or refusal to register a SIM card is subject to a maximum fine of P1 million for every offense.
Those using fictitious identities or fraudulent identification documents to register a SIM card or selling a stolen SIM card could be imprisoned for up to two years and slapped with a fine of up to P300,000.
Penalties also apply to those who spoof a registered SIM card.
All telecom firms are required to submit an annual report on the implementation of the provisions of the law to designated government offices. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan