Mozilla bucks Philippine SIM card registration law

Mozilla, the global non-profit behind the open-source web browser Firefox, opposes the implementation of the Philippine SIM Card Registration Law.

“While well-intentioned, the Philippines’ Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act will set a worrying precedent for the privacy and anonymity of people on the internet. In its current state, approved by the Philippine Congress but awaiting Presidential assent, the law contains provisions requiring social media companies to mandatorily verify the real names and phone numbers of users that create accounts on their platform. Such a move will not only limit the anonymity that is essential online (for example, for whistle-blowing and protection from stalkers) but also reduce the privacy and security they can expect from private companies,” according to Udbhav Tiwari, Senior Manager for Global Public Policy at Mozilla in an article posted on the organization’s Open Policy & Advocacy blog.

According to Tiwari, the provisions of the law (which is up to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to sign or veto this month) raise several concerns that merit serious reconsideration. Among these concerns are sharing sensitive personal data with technology companies, harming smaller players, increased risk of data breaches, and inadequate solutions as there is no evidence to prove that this law (once signed) will help fight crimes, misinformation, or scams.

The House of Representatives and the Senate ratified the SIM Card Registration Act on 02 February 2022. According to several sources, the copy of the proposed legislation was only transmitted to the Office of the President last 18 March 2022 and will lapse into law if not vetoed nor signed by the President come 17 April 2022.