Globe bats for stronger cybercrime laws

Published February 11, 2022, 11:26 AM

by Emmie V. Abadilla


Globe Telecom Inc. called for a stronger cybercrime law and the enforcement of the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) Card Registration Act once enacted, to protect Filipinos from rampant fraud online.

The telco prioritizes keeping its customers safe from phishing, one of the ways attackers use to steal important personal data, President and CEO Ernest Cu stressed their Feb. 10 financial media briefing.

Unscrupulous groups and individuals often masquerade as a trusted organization to lure victims into opening malicious links from an email, instant message, or text message, he pointed out.

However, current laws are lacking in terms of enabling the prosecution of cybercriminals despite the proliferation of phishing scams, Cu lamented.

“We would like a strengthening of the law, particularly with regards to phishing and phishing site creation,” he underscored.

“We also have to help law enforcement and the Justice Department to put them, and those who allow their financial accounts to be used as mule accounts for phishing, behind bars.”

In 2021, Globe blocked a total of 1.15 billion scam and spam messages, around 7,000 mobile numbers linked to scammers, and 2,000 unofficial social media accounts and phishing sites.

The telco also worked closely with law enforcement agencies to track cybercriminals and prevent further incidents of online scamming and phishing.

While Globe fully supports the SIM Card Registration Act, it is wary about how easy it is to obtain fake IDs in the country, Cu warned.

This makes the speedy rollout of the National ID system of utmost importance.

Already, Congress has ratified the bicameral report on the SIM registration measure and it is now awaiting the President’s signature.

“We need a very rational implementation of the SIM registration law because this country lacks reliable IT systems,” the Globe President underscored.

“We don’t want anyone to think that the silver bullet of registration will solve all fraud, terrorism, and crime-related identification. That would be a bit of a fallacy,” he acknowledged.

Furthermore, the Globe President called on the government to hasten the implementation of APIs into the national ID system that allows checks once registration has been implemented.

The SIM card Registration Act requires public telecommunication entities (PTEs) to register SIM cards at the point of sale or before activation.

Existing and active subscribers must register their SIMs within 180 days from the law’s effectivity, with a possible extension of 120 days. PTEs are authorized to automatically deactivate unregistered SIMs after the deadline.

“Globe supports the implementation of the SIM card Registration Act as part of our commitment to support government in its fight against fraud, terrorism and other crimes,” according to Atty. Froilan Castelo, Globe General Counsel.

“Through this bill, we hope to strengthen government-private sector cooperation towards protecting mobile phone users against text scams and crimes perpetrated in anonymity,” he added.

Globe is ready to collaborate with the National Telecommunications Commission, the agency that will formulate implementing guidelines for the measure, “to make the registration process safe and convenient for customers”, Castelo confirmed.

Globe has relayed to Congress the scale of the registration process that shall transpire upon enactment of the law.

“There are more prepaid SIM users than voters in the Philippines,” telco executives cautioned.

Overall, the country has more than 120 million total mobile subscribers. Around 95 percent of them use prepaid SIMs.

“You could just imagine the complexities of even the registration of voters itself,” says Castelo.

‘Compared to prepaid users, this would be more than the number of voters in the Philippines. Just the same, the NTC will come up with the implementing rules and we will participate actively in the formulation of these implementing rules so that this registration process will be reasonable and practical,” he noted.

Still, “The privacy of the subscriber should be maintained,” Castelo added.

Hence, the data privacy law will be incorporated in the enforcement of the SIM Card Registration Act to protect the public’s personal information.