NBI says photo of animal can be used in SIM registration

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 5) — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) told senators on Tuesday that it successfully registered a subscriber identity module (SIM) using a photo of an animal.

In a Senate hearing, NBI Cybercrime Division chief Jeremy Lotoc said they tried to register SIM bought from different telecommunications companies on Monday night as part of its investigation.

“We entered the face of an animal and different names, natanggap pa rin [it was still accepted],” Lotoc said, stressing that there is still a flaw in the SIM registration.

Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the committee on public services, asked what identification card the team used. Lotoc answered that it’s easy to craft government IDs online and just put a picture on it.

“If you're with the telcos and you see the application form of that monkey smiling at you, what the heck are you doing?” Sen. Joel Villanueva said. “It’s common sense na hindi dapat pagbigyan ‘to dahil hindi natin mahuhuli yong mga gumagawa ng kalokohan dito [that we should not let this happen because we cannot apprehend those who are creating trouble].”

Ariel Tubayan, head of the policy division of Globe Telecom, raised that it would be easier for telcos to have a fully implemented national ID system, which has biometrics, to prevent such a thing from happening.

This drew Villanueva’s ire further.

“That’s the best practice and all countries that have implemented SIM registration — they have slotted first the national ID before they went into SIM registration,” Tubayan pressed.

DITO said features it implemented for its SIM registration portal supposedly would not let a registration with a photo of an animal go through.

Roy Ibay, Smart Communication’s head of regulatory affairs, said they will also investigate similar cases in its system.

He, however, raised there might be glitches in the optical character recognition technology placed in registration portals, especially when they were rushed to include the technology to meet the SIM registration deadline.

“All of us here are playing catchup with technology so the blame is not all lodged in one particular group,” Poe said. “But, of course, we have to keep updating, and it’s frustrating, it’s adding insult to injury kung nakita mong nakangiti ‘yong monkey [if you see the monkey smiling].”

With this, Poe asked the NTC for its cooperation to amend the implementing rules and regulations of the SIM Registration Act.

READ: Marcos signs SIM registration law

NTC Commissioner Ella Lopez said they will comply, adding they will include issues that need to be addressed in the formation of the “post-registration validation mechanism” to remove spurious registration.

The NTC said DITO and Smart Communications already submitted proposals for the post-registration validation mechanism.

Lopez said as of Sept. 3, there are 118,908,469 registered SIM nationwide. The commission has received a total of 45,697 complaints related to scams, she added.