Senate passes SIM Card Registration Act on final reading

Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 16 2021 04:51 PM | Updated as of Dec 16 2021 05:08 PM

MANILA— The Senate on Thursday approved on third and final reading a measure that aims to make the registration of subscriber identification modules or SIM cards mandatory. 

Senate Bill No. 2395 passed the upper chamber with 22 in favor, none against, and no abstentions. Under the bill, a SIM card seller will be required to take a buyer's name, address, and birthday. 

Senate Public Services Committee Chairperson Grace Poe said the measure was timely, as many scammers are using cellphones and internet-based transactions. 

"The measure establishes another layer of security protection for Filipinos which will hopefully deter criminals from perpetrating their wicked plans," she said. "And it is up to us, as policymakers of this country, to spearhead the change."

Poe added the mandatory registration of SIM cards will be implemented with respect toward an individual's privacy. 

"As a champion of privacy rights, we have ensured that the measure was crafted in a manner that accords the highest respect for the Filipinos’ right to confidentiality. Such right is sacred now, and it will remain as such even after this bill becomes law and is enforced," Poe said. 

Poe also thanked Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon for inserting a provision that obligates social media providers to ask for a person's real phone number and name before allowing them to register. Poe said this is to address the spread of troll farms. 

Once the measure is passed into law, a SIM card buyer will have to show a government-issued ID or any proof of their identity. 

SIM cards currently in use will also have to be registered within one year after the bill's passage. If the SIM card remains unregistered after that time, a telecommunications company can have it deactivated. 

A buyer's name and personal information will be given to a public telecommunications entity or a telecommunications company that will input the data into a centralized database. The National Telecommunications Commission and the Department of Information and Communications Technology will have access to it. 

A SIM card buyer's information will be confidential unless it is requested by a court or by a legitimate investigation. 

Under the bill, a buyer who uses a fake name or provides false information may be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison. Meanwhile, a SIM card seller who illegally publishes information about a buyer may be fined up to P200,000.