Sim card registration

Published January 15, 2022, 4:57 AM

by Atty. Vic Dimagiba

Except the Philippines, the ASEAN member states Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam have enacted laws requiring mandatory registration of prepaid sim card.   Some require biometric or fingerprint identification in addition to the usual presentation of a legitimate identification cards.

In the country, there are laws on mobile phone portability , privacy ,national identification system , anti terror  , cyber crime , e -commerce , consumer act and competition law. But sad to state,   none of them have addressed a more  fundamental  security issue that helps advocacy , information dissemination, responsibility and accountability from the citizens than enacting the !aw requiring the mandatory registration of prepaid sim card.  

I recall a number of  arguments raised by the public and private stakeholders against sim card registration like an expensive capital investment which cost  will be passed on to the subscribers , that mandatory sim card registration may run counter to the privacy law, that  the mandatory national identification system as well as the anti terror law are  better state instruments to ran after criminals, terrorists and syndicated fraud .

The mobile market for pre paid sim card represents approximately 90 pct. of the population which can further increase due to the operation of  a third telephone mobile company. It is about time that we should commence a phased transition to mandatory sim card registration of prepaid cards as soon as the law is enacted by the 18th Congress.

Commissioner Raymond Liboro of the National Privacy Commission presented the following arguments in support of the mandatory sim card registration:

  1. The country may harness the benefits of the proposed sim card registration by enabling SMEs engaged in e-commerce and engendering consumer trust in a fast-growing identity linked digital services society.
  2. It is coming at a time of rapid digitalization during the pandemic that resulted in the Filipinos’ unprecedented participation in e- commerce, Fintech, and mobile services using various digital platform. Under these circumstances, the need to know your customers or know your client becomes imperative not only to protect the public from ict enabled scams and frauds, but more importantly to build consumer and business confidence to engage productively in the digital economy.
  3. Mandatory sim card registration will succeed under a framework of guaranteed privacy protection for mobile users under the Data Privacy Act. Presently, we have that framework in place to protect citizens privacy and ensure that data privacy rights of mobile users are upheld under the Data Privacy Act of 2012.
  4. The mandatory sim registration can be strengthened thru the PhilSys which establishes a single source of truth for identification and validation of identities for citizens and resident aliens.

I wish to share in this column a report in 2016 on Mandatory Registration of Prepaid sim card from the Groupe Specials Mobile Association (GSMA).

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, about 800 operators from more than 250 companies. Portions of the executive summary is quoted and edited herein.

“Prepaid sim card registration is mandated in a number of countries which requires consumers to provide proof of identification in order to activate and use a mobile sim card. A number of countries adopted this policy as  part  of efforts to help mitigate security concerns and also to address criminal and anti social behavior .

The paper reviews recent requirements for mandatory registration in various markets, reflects the best practices, highlights potential issues and suggested recommendations for policy makers.

  1. Consult , collaborate and communicate with mobile operators before, during and after the implementation  exercise ,while balancing national security demands against protection of citizens rights.
  2. Set realistic timescales for designing, testing and implementing registration processes.
  3. Provide certainty and clarity on registration requirements before any implementation.
  4. Design administratively “light “registration processes.
  5. Allow and encourage the registered ID to be used for other value added mobile and digital services 
  6. Support mobile operators by contributing to joint communication activities and to their operational costs.” For more information visit www.gsma.com

     Prepaid sim cards make internet access easily affordable to the consumers. The legitimate users could easily comply with the law without hesitation.  Mandatory registration processes can be simple and brief. There are more benefits to reap from mandatory sim card registration as the State lawful exercise of it’s police power .

    Both versions of the House and Senate of the sim card registration bills have passed 3rd readings and each Chamber will designate their conference members in the bicameral committee. With little more time in the 18th Congress , the country will  join our Asean neighbors with an enacted law providing mandatory registration of pre paid sim cards. 

Atty. Vic Dimagiba 

President, Laban Konsyumer Inc.

Email at [email protected] 

 
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