By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police (PNP) sees SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) as one of the effective ways to combat trolls in the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde believes that by mandating a person to have his name and other basic information to be disclosed before he could buy a SIM card, trolls would have second thoughts to bully and pester netizens who are expressing their views in their respective social media accounts.
“It is very important that when you buy a SIM card, you have to give your identity. In other countries, you cannot buy a SIM card without presenting passports and other valid identification cards,” said Albayalde.
Chief Supt. Marni Marcos, director of the PNP’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), explained that any person could open multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts, and e-mail addresses using a single SIM Card.
Phone numbers or e-mail addresses are among the requirements in opening social media accounts.
“If a person knows that his identity could be traced, then he would second thoughts in trolling other social media users. So the Chief PNP is right when he said that SIM card registration is a way of preventing the prevalence of social media trolls,” Marcos told The Manila Bulletin in a separate interview.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines troll as a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.
Marcos said the lack of regulation in the procurement of SIM card in the country is conducive not only to trolling but also online bullying and other criminal activities.
For a price of P10 for instance, Marcos said a person could already use a cellular phone that eventually gives him access to multiple social media accounts.
The House Bill 7233, or the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act, was filed in an attempt to combat criminal activities like theft, swindling, kidnap-for-ransom and other crime wherein the perpetrators use cellular phones in their illegal activities.
Marcos said they see the enactment of the law as necessity following various terror attacks in the past wherein improvised explosive devices were detonated by cellular phone calls.
And since investigators could not identify the caller due to the absence of SIM card registration, the PNP and other agencies would always find difficulty in solving bomb attacks and other criminal activities.
The House of Representatives has already approved the bill on final reading in May last year. The Senate is yet to act on its version.
“We are only among the few countries that do not require SIM card registration. So we are hoping that this would be finally approved because this is for public safety,” said Marcos.
Both Albayalde and Marcos, however, admitted that it was indeed difficult to enact SIM card registration into law due to the apprehensions of some lawmakers on the issue of privacy.
“Some of the lawmakers think that this could be used for political purposes,” said Albayalde.
“There are concerns that this law would violate the right to privacy by the SIM card owners,” Marcos said, for his part.
Not that easy
But Marcos was quick to clarify the misconception the SIM card registration.
“Some people think that we could easily go to the telecommunication companies to get the information of their subscriber. No it will not work that way,” said Marcos.
“We will have to go to the court and convince the court to issue a court order for telecom firms to disclose the identity of their subscriber,” he stressed.