Petition vs SIM registration filed before SC

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) – A petition has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking to declare the mandatory SIM (subscriber identity module) registration law unconstitutional.

Petitioners including the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines are asking for a temporary restraining order to stop the law's implementation.

They also want the high court to order telcos to cease and desist from using information stored into the SIM register and destroy data already gathered.

They argued that the law violates freedom of speech.

"It conditions the exercise of speech through the use of SIM cards to a mandatory disclosure of a specific combination of information that is supposed to tie every SIM card to a specific person," they pointed out.

For them, the law is in the nature of prior restraint and on its face, chills all speech done through SIM cards if disclosure is not made.

The petitioners also stressed that the law intrudes and violates "reasonable expectations of privacy" by sanctioning authorities' access to the SIM Register — not through court-issued warrants but via a simple subpoena.

Worse, they explained the law allows authorities to assume the identity of any registered Filipino using their spoofed SIM cards and intercept all communications and data.

"All accounts that rely on OTPs (One Time Password); all communications through cellular networks; all conversations between husbands and wives, lawyers and clients, doctors and patients, priests and penitents, journalists and sources — all these become fair game to law enforcement agencies' on-demand fishing expedition enabled by the SIM Registration Act," they warn.

As of April 16, the Department of Information and Communications Technology said more than 71 million or 42.82% of SIMs users have already registered.

The updated figure is a consolidated data from SMART Communications Inc. (35,660,655), Globe Telecom Inc. (31,028,672) and DITO Telecommunity Corp. (5,263,475).