House approves on final reading bill mandating SIM card registration

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 6) — The House of Representatives on Monday passed on final reading a measure seeking to require the registration of subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.

Voting 181-6-0, lawmakers approved House Bill No. 5793 which aims to help law enforcers track down those who use mobile phones to engage in criminal activities, such as theft or kidnapping.

Under the bill, all public telecommunications entities (PTEs) and direct sellers of prepaid and postpaid SIM cards shall mandate users to accomplish a control-numbered registration form and present a valid identification with photo.

Information that would have to be provided in the form include the user’s full name, date of birth, gender and address.

Those with existing prepaid SIM cards will also be asked to comply. Failure to do so shall authorize a PTE to automatically deactivate its services to the subscriber.

Foreign nationals who will purchase SIM cards in the country are likewise covered by the proposed law.

Under the bill, PTEs and direct sellers would have to establish a SIM card register of their subscribers and submit updated data to the Department of Information and Communications Technology every six months.

A confidentiality clause prohibits the disclosure of any information on 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, that a particular number requested is used in the commission of a crime.”

The measure states PTEs and direct sellers which fail to abide by the rules may face suspension of operation. Penalties also include a fine of up to ₱1 million for PTEs and ₱50,000 for direct sellers.

If the offense is committed by an employee of an implementing government agency, a penalty of suspension or dismissal from service and a fine to be determined by a court shall be imposed.