Marcos signs into law SIM Registration Act

BY

It's official.

Filipinos must now register their SIM cards with their telcos after President Marcos signed Republic Act No. 11934, or the SIM Registration Act, into law in Malacañang on Monday, October 10, in an attempt to intensify government initiatives against scams and crimes committed through text and online messages.

President Marcos signs the SIM Registration Act in a ceremony in Malacañang on October 10, 2022. (RTVM Screenshot / Pixabay)

In signing the measure, Marcos noted that the government will finally achieve the "long overdue" goal of having an effective means of regulating the issuance of SIM cards to curb the spread of spam text messages and scams.

"We will soon be able to provide law enforcement agencies with the tools needed to resolve crimes perpetrated with the use of these SIM Cards, as well as providing a strong deterrence against the commission of wrongdoing," he said.

"Truly, the legislation is going to be welcomed by many of our people, especially now with reports of the commission of various crimes using mobile phones, including the proliferation of text scams and spam," he added.

President Marcos said that the signing of the law has set the important tone that it is the government's policy to ensure that technology will only be used to improve people’s lives.

Under the Sim Card Registration Act, every public telecommunication entity or direct seller shall be required to demand end users of SIM cards present a valid identification document to validate their identities.

Among the information required from end users are:

  • Full name
  • Complete address
  • Date of birth
  • Sex
  • Cellphone number of the SIM card and serial number

Some of the valid documents they can present are:

  • Driver's License
  • Philippine National ID
  • SSS/GSIS Card
  • UMID Card
  • Passport
  • Senior Citizen's Card
  • NBI Clearance
  • Police Clearance
  • Firearms License
  • Voter's ID
  • TIN ID
  • PRC ID
  • IBP ID
  • OWWA ID
  • Government Office ID
  • PWD Card
  • School ID (for minors)

The law requires public telecommunications entities (PTEs) to maintain a SIM Card Register of their subscribers, containing the required information. They must also submit a verified list of their authorized dealers and agents nationwide to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), with updates every quarter of the year.

To cover all users of SIM cards in this act, PTEs are mandated to ensure the registration of existing prepaid SIM card subscribers within a prescribed period. An earlier version of the law prescribed 180 days.

Failure to comply results in the grant of authority for telecommunications entities to automatically deactivate services to the specific SIM card subscriber.

Foreigners in the Philippines also have to register their SIM cards. They need to provide their personal information and passport number and present any of the following documents:

  • Return or departure ticket (for tourists)
  • Passport
  • Proof of address in the Philippines
  • Alien Employment Permit
  • Alien Certificate of Registration ID
  • School registration ID (for students)
  • Other pertinent documents

The registered SIM cards of tourists are only valid for 30 days.

Data privacy

In his speech after signing the law, President Marcos assured the public that the information they will provide to PTEs will be treated confidentially.

With this, he reminded the people that the use of false or fictitious information, the use of fictitious identities, and the use of fraudulent documents or identifications to register a SIM card shall be dealt with by appropriate penalties.

"Crucially as well, included in this crucial piece of legislation are provisions that make paramount the protection of confidentiality and data privacy rights of subscribers, which shall begin to take effect at the point of sale," Marcos said.

"Any information in the SIM card registration shall be treated as absolutely confidential unless access to this information has been granted by the written consent of the subscriber," he added.

The President likewise said that PTEs can only disclose the information contained in the SIM card, upon a duly issued subpoena or order of a court upon a finding of probable cause.

They can also be compelled to do so upon written request from a law enforcement agency concerning an ongoing investigation, that a particular number is used in the commission of a crime or that it was used as a means to commit an unlawful act

Appropriate penalties shall be imposed for any breach of confidentiality due to negligence, for spoofing a registered SIM card, for the selling of stolen SIM cards, and for the sale or transfer of a registered SIM without complying with required registration.