April 24, 2024

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Despite issues on privacy, BBM signs Sim Card Law

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SORSOGON CITY – President Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos Jr. on Monday, October 10, 2022, signed his first law, the Republic Act No. 11934, or the SIM Card Registration Act (RA 11934), this despite wide criticisms by various sectors over privacy and security concern.

Some of the main aspects of RA 11934 are as follows;

Those already owning a SIM card would be required to register with telcos within a given time period. Failure to comply will result in deactivation.

The law mandates telco companies and sellers to require customers for valid ID before selling SIM cards. Telco entities are required by the new law to maintain a SIM card register of their clients/ subscribers.

The companies are required to submit a verified list of their authorized dealers/ agents nationwide to the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC), with quarterly updates.

While the new law is expected to lessen the cases of spam and scam messages, various groups expressed wary that it will violate right to speech and privacy.

Former Pres. Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the said controversial proposed law, as it will violate the constitutionally protected rights.

Moreover, it is alleged that it could be weaponized to spy and target the government’s perceived enemies, this includes its critics, opposition and right defenders.

Human Rights Watch director for Technology and Human Rights, Frederike Kaltheuner claimed that the SIM card registration would allow the state to know the identity of the owner of a SIM card, and thus who is most likely making a call or sending a message at any given time.

She added that the law eradicates the potential for anonymity of communications, enables location-tracking, and simplifies communications surveillance and interception.

To ensure that the law will not be abused; the proponents of the law put “safeguard mechanism”, these include; the prohibition to disclose the personal information of a subscriber unless upon subpoena or lawful order from a competent court or written request from a law enforcement agency in relation to an ongoing investigation. It also prescribes hefty penalties of up to P4 million for violators.

Under RA 11934, offenses punishable include the failure or refusal to register a SIM card; violation of confidentiality, may it be intentional or due to negligence; use of false/ fake or fictitious information or identity or fraudulent IDs in SIM card registration; spoofing a registered SIM card; sale of a stolen SIM card, and sale or transfer of a registered SIM card without complying with the required registration.