Mandatory SIM card registration bill approved in the Lower House

Published December 6, 2021, 8:54 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives moved to to take strong action against criminal activities carried out with the use of mobile phones by passing on final reading the mandatory registration of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards.

House of Representatives plenary

The chamber voted 181 for and six against for the third and final reading approval of House Bill 5793 or the “Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act.”

Endorsed by the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology, HB 5793 establishes a system of Sale and Registration of SIM Card for all end users by registering pertinent data in a form set up for this purpose.

HB 5793 consolidated a total 16 bills filed separately by at least 20 congressmen. Among the authors are Deputy Speakers Michael Romero (1PACMAN Partylist) and Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Reps. Precious Hipolito Castelo (2nd District, QC); Eric Pineda (1Pacman Partylist); “Kuya” Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan)and Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon (Lone District, Valenzuela City), among other House members.

Authors of the bill are confident that enactment of the measure will help law enforcement agencies in “tracking down” criminals and other unscrupulous individuals who use mobile phones in fraud, kidnaping and other criminal activities.

While the bill imposes the mandatory registration of SIM cards bought by end users, it also provides strict observation of confidentiality of the buyer.

The Confidentiality Clause prohibits disclosure of any information of a subscriber, unless upon the order of a competent court or by a law enforcement agency conducting an ongoing investigation into a criminal activity.

HB 5793 also mandates all Public Telecommunications Entities (PTEs) should maintain a SIM Card Register of their subscribers. The registry will be submitted to the Department of Information and Communications Technology every six months.

It is mandatory for all PTEs to keep the data of their subscribers and for the DICT to ensure the confidentiality of information about subscribers.

Subscribers of existing pre-paid SIM Cards are directed to registered within a prescribed period. PTE’s will automatically deactivate the services of existing prepaid SIM card subscribers who will not comply with said provision.

The Lower House recommended penalties for non-complying PTE’s which will be graduated from a fine of P300,000 for the first offense; P500,000 for the second offense and P1 million for third and subsequent violations.