Senate pushes for nationwide SIM card registration

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 14 2016 06:09 PM

MANILA - A proposal to have a nationwide mandatory registration of prepaid subscriber identification module (SIM) cards is being pushed in the Senate to address mobile-related crimes.

Senate bill number 7 or the Sim Card Registration Act of 2016 seeks to "eradicate mobile phone-aided terrorism and criminal activities" by registering all prepaid SIMs and limiting each person to own only up to three SIM cards "across all service providers."

"We have witnessed how criminal minds abused the non-registration and loose regulation on SIM cards, latest of which was the Davao City bombing where the bomb was allegedly detonated using a cellular phone," Senate President Koko Pimentel said, justifying the necessity of the bill.

A SIM card registration may also enhance government monitoring and collection systems on telecommunications companies, proponents claimed.

Under the proposed measure, SIM cards may be purchased in bulk provided that these will be registered under a company or an agency.

A person can have more than three SIM cards registered under his or her name "provided that he or she is the parent or legal guardian registering for and in behalf of his or her children or ward."

Should the bill be passed into law, a registered SIM card owner should be at least 15-years old.

Mobile phone service providers will be mandated to submit "a verified list of their current authorized dealers or agents nationwide," and submit an updated list to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) every quarter.

Third-party re-sellers are expected to collect and submit accomplished registration forms, along with photocopies of government IDs of those who bought SIM cards. NTC will be tasked to formulate guidelines on how to register SIM cards that have been bought prior to the passage of the bill.

A confidentiality clause has been included in the proposed measure to ensure consumers that their personal information will not be used for other purposes.

Pimentel added that having a list of all SIM cards in the market will also give the government a more accurate number of subscribers that can be used to gauge the actual earnings of telcos.

"The registration can also enhance government monitoring of, and revenue collection from telcos as audits can be done easily based primarily on the recorded purchase of prepaid SIM cards," he said.

The subscriber base of prepaid SIM cards grows dramatically each year, reaching an estimated number of almost 100 million, or about 90 percent of the country's cellular phone service market.