MANILA (UPDATE) — The House of Representatives has approved on 3rd and final reading a bill seeking to require SIM card registration.
More than 180 lawmakers voted for House Bill 5793, while 6 rejected the measure. No one abstained.
Under the bill, a sim card user must present a valid or government-issued ID with photo to ascertain his or her identity to the telecommunication company or the direct seller.
The bill also requires the end user to sign a control-numbered registration form attesting the person who bought the sim card is also the same who signed the registration form.
Failure to comply with the requirements will be a ground for the seller or the telco to refuse the sale and issuance of the sim card.
If the buyer of the sim card does not have any government-issued ID he or she may use NBI clearance, police clearance, or Philippine Statistics Authority certified birth certificate with an ID picture taken within the last 6 months.
Information submitted by the sim user is subject to the bill’s confidentiality clause unless granted by written consent from the user.
Telcos shall be required to disclose these details once a court issues a subpoena or upon finding of probable cause or upon a written request from law enforcement agencies on an ongoing investigation when a particular number is used in a crime or an unlawful act.
The same measure is pending before the Senate plenary on second reading.
In an interview on Teleradyo, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the principal author of the bill's Senate version, said he hopes they will be finished with the discussion of the measure by January.
"Hindi 'yan aabot this year, but sigurado ko, aabot 'yan January," he said.
(It will not be finished within the year but I'm sure we'll be done by January.)
"Kasi advanced stage na rin dito, nasa floor na. Sa aking pakikipag-usap sa ibang mga senador, wala namang tumututol dito, at lahat, mukhang almost everyone agrees na dapat mayroon na tayong ganito," Gatchalian added.
(We are also in the advanced stages, it has reached the floor. In my conversations with other senators, there were no objections, and it seems like almost everyone agrees that we need to have this law.)
Meanwhile, tech editor Art Samaniego said it was important to have a SIM card registration law to deter unscrupulous people from using prepaid SIM cards in crime.
"Pabor ako sa SIM card registration. Kasi ang mga manloloko, kapag nakita nila na ang pagkuha ng SIM card, 'yung process ng pagkuha, kailangan mo magpakita, kailangan mo ng ID, mayroon siyang know your customer, parang ganoon, hindi na nila magagamit 'yun sa kalokohan kasi maiidentify sila," Samaniego said in the same Teleradyo interview.
(I am in favor of the SIM card registration. Crooks will hesitate in using prepaid SIM cards once they know that they have to provide their personal information, like a know your customer rule, before they can buy it. They won't use it in criminal activities because they will be identified.)
He added that the registration will be advantageous to prepaid SIM users because they will be able to do things more conveniently, like linking their phone numbers to financial tech apps without having to provide additional proof of identification.