Explainer: What you need to know about the SIM card registration law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. signed on Monday the SIM Card Registration Act.

The new measure, which was ratified by both chambers of Congress on Sept. 28, aims to address the proliferation of text scams in the country, as well as other crimes committed through text messages.

Agencies involved, led by the National Telecommunications Commission, will now start working on the law's implementing rules and regulations.

Now that it is officially a signed measure, how will the SIM registration law impact telecommunication companies and users?

Tingog Party-list Rep. Jude Acidre, one of the proponents of the measure, told CNN Philippines' The Source on Sept. 21 the requirements and implications of the measure.

Only authorized SIM card sellers allowed

Under the law, public telecommunications entities or PTEs will have to submit to the National Telecommunications Commission within 30 days a list of authorized sellers or dealers, and should submit an updated list every quarter of the year.

"Whether maliit lang na tindahan, I don't think that's going to be a problem for as long as they are authorized; 'yung nasa bangketa definitely hindi na pwede iyon kasi ang gusto nga nating ma-achieve sa bill na ito is to regulate the sale of SIM cards," Acidre said.

[Translation: Whether it's a small store or not, I don't think that's going to be a problem for as long as they are authorized; sellers along sidewalks are definitely not authorized because what this bill wants to achieve is the regulation of the sale of SIM cards.]

Subscribers must register within 6 months

Mobile phone subscribers with prepaid SIM cards must register and verify their phone numbers with their respective PTEs 180 days from the effectivity of the measure.

An extension period of up to 120 days can be granted upon a valid written request to the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

How to register

During the registration process, users will be required to present a copy of their valid government ID containing a photo. They can also present their National Bureau of Investigation clearance, or a Philippine Statistics Authority-certified birth certificate.

SIM card sellers may refuse from selling if the presented ID is proven to be invalid.

"They (users) will be asked to fill up a form, nandoon yung information, nandoon din yung SIM card number and serial number na magiging tracker ng SIM card na nabili," Acidre explained.

[Translation: Their personal information must be in the form, as well as the SIM card and serial numbers which will serve as a tracker of the purchased SIM card.]

In the law, foreign nationals visiting as tourists for not more than 30 days must present a passport, proof of address in the Philippines, and a ticket showing the date of their departure from the country.

Foreign nationals staying for more than 30 days will be required to present additional requirements, such as an alien employment permit, alien certificate of registration identification card, and a school registration and ID for students.

The registration form will be forwarded by the direct seller to the PTEs.

No inclusion of social media accounts

Acidre acknowledged that they cannot yet require the inclusion of social media accounts in the registration, which was part of the provision in the version of the measure that was vetoed by former president Rodrigo Duterte under the 18th Congress.

He said the current version of the measure under the 19th Congress solely focuses on SIM card registration, since there are aspects in social media registration "that could infringe on people's right to privacy which we are careful about." He also acknowledged the need to further study the matter.

The proposed SIM Registration Act was approved by the Senate on second reading on Monday, right after getting a 250-6-1 vote in the House of Representatives.

The measure, which aims to curb mobile phone and electronic communication-aided crimes from texts scams to terrorist activities, needs to undergo third reading in the Senate plenary and then transmitted to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for its final approval.