The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered all cell phone owners to register their old and new SIM or subscriber identification module cards beginning December 27 under new rules issued in line with the law.
On Monday, the NTC released the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11934 or the SIM Registration Act
This means existing users have six months to register the SIM card or it will be deactivated. Once deactivated, under the IRR of RA 11934, owners of deactivated SIM will have only five days to register and reactivate.
In addition, new purchased SIM cards will remain deactivated until the end-users complete the process of registration.
Under the law, the registration of SIM cards must be done electronically through a secure platform or website to be provided by the telecommunication companies to their respective subscribers.
In the registration process, users or subscribers will be asked to give some personal information like complete name, birthdate, sex, and address. They must also provide a copy of an identification card.
The IRR also states that any information and data obtained in the registration must be treated as absolutely confidential and shall not be disclosed to any person.
Under the law; telecommunication companies (telcos) may only disclose the full name and address of an end-user only in four instances: in compliance with any law obligating the telcos to disclose such information in accordance with the Data Privacy Act; in compliance with a court order or legal process upon finding of probable cause;
in compliance with a subpoena issued by a competent authority pursuant to an investigation that a specific mobile number, was or is being used in the commission of a crime; and with the written consent of the subscriber.
“The confidentiality clause in the SIM registration shall take effect at the point of activation and shall continue even after deactivation of the SIM and for as long as the end-user’s data is still retained by the PTEs (public telecommunication entity),” the IRR stated.
“For this purpose, the point of activation shall mean the time when the concerned PTE receives the required data or information from the registering subscriber/end-user,” it added.
Those who will violate the law, stiff fines and jail time awaits.
Telcos expressed their preparedness to comply with the IRR.
In a statement, Globe Telecom vowed to launch an online SIM registration platform soon and begin selling new SIMs in deactivated mode.
There are an estimated 87.9 million SIM users under the Globe network.
Globe Group President and CEO Ernest Cu. said that they will continue their close collaboration with the government to ensure full implementation of the SIM Registration Act to achieve our shared goal of stopping cybercrime, including SIM-aided fraud.
He added that Globe will provide a special assistance process for existing customers who are currently not using smartphones and may not be digital savvy so they can go through the registration as well.
DITO Telecommunity Chief Administrative Officer Adel Tamano said they support the SIM registration Act to protect the public from “fraudulent activities.”
“We support this important initiative of the government to protect the public from phishing and similar types of fraudulent activities. We will do our level best to make the registration process as simple and painless as possible for new DITO subscribers and our 14 million existing customers,” he added.
PLDT-Smart has yet to make a statement on the implementation of RA 11934
Meanwhile, Think-tank Infrawatch says that with the issuance of the SIM Card Registration law IRR, the government should work with telcos and the public to make sure the registration process will be efficient while safeguarding the confidential information of users.
“It remains to be our position that SIM card registration databases may be major points of breach, and both government and telcos should work together to prevent negative outcomes,” Infrawatch convenor Terry Ridon, Infrawatch convenor said.
Ridon added that telcos should make sure there are no waivers of confidentiality upon registration.
“While there is a specific guarantee of confidentiality relating to initial subscription, there is no similar guarantee upon registration,” he said.