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Globe calls for stronger cybercrime law, ‘rational’ enforcement of SIM registration

Ayala-led Globe Telecom Inc. has called for a stronger cybercrime law and the rational enforcement of the SIM Card Registration Act upon its enactment in a bid to safeguard Filipinos from rampant fraudulent activities using mobile phones and the internet.

In a statement on Friday, Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu said the telco prioritizes keeping its customers safe from phishing, one of the ways attackers use to steal important personal data.

These unscrupulous groups or individuals often masquerade as a trusted organization to lure victims into opening malicious links from an email, instant message, or text message, Cu said.

However, he said that despite the proliferation of phishing scams, current laws are lacking in terms of enabling the prosecution of cybercriminals.

“We would like a strengthening of the law, particularly with regards to phishing and phishing site creation.  We also have to help law enforcement and help our Justice Department prosecute these individuals and put them behind bars. Not only them but also those who allow their financial accounts to be used as mule accounts for the flow of transactions that phish from unknowing customers,” the Globe chief said.

In 2021, Globe blocked a total of 1.15 billion scam and spam messages, around 7,000 mobile numbers linked to scammers, and 2,000 unofficial social media accounts and phishing sites. It is also working closely with law enforcement agencies to track cybercriminals and prevent further incidents of online scamming and phishing.

While Globe fully supports the SIM Card Registration Act, it is also wary of how easy it is to obtain fake IDs in the country, Cu said.

This makes the speedy rollout of the National ID system of utmost importance.

The bicameral report on the SIM registration measure was recently ratified by Congress and is awaiting the President’s signature.

“We need a very rational implementation of the SIM registration law because this country lacks reliable IT systems. We don't want anyone to think that the silver bullet of registration will solve all fraud, terrorism, and crime-related identification.  That would be a bit of a fallacy. May I also call on the government to hasten the implementation of APIs into the national ID system that allows checks once registration has been implemented,” Cu said.

The SIM card Registration Act requires public telecommunication entities (PTEs) to register SIM cards at the point of sale or before activation.

Existing and active subscribers must register their SIMs within 180 days from the law’s effectivity, with a possible extension of 120 days.

PTEs are authorized to automatically deactivate unregistered SIMs after the deadline.

“Globe supports the implementation of the SIM card Registration Act as part of our commitment to support government in its fight against fraud, terrorism and other crimes. Through this bill, we hope to further strengthen government-private sector cooperation towards protecting mobile phone users against text scams and crimes perpetrated in anonymity,” said Froilan Castelo, Globe general counsel.

Castelo said Globe is ready to collaborate with the National Telecommunications Commission, the agency that will formulate implementing guidelines for the measure, “to make the registration process safe and convenient for customers.”

Castelo added Globe has relayed to Congress the scale of the registration process that shall transpire upon enactment of the law, as “there are more prepaid SIM users than voters in the Philippines.”

There are more than 120 million total mobile customers in the country, of which around 95% are using prepaid SIMs.

“You could just imagine the complexities of even the registration of voters itself. Compared to prepaid users, this would be more than the number of voters in the Philippines. Just the same, the NTC will come up with the implementing rules and we will participate actively in the formulation of these implementing rules so that this registration process will be reasonable and practical,” Castelo said.

The Globe counsel, likewise, assured the public that their data will be protected even with SIM registration required, as the data privacy law will be incorporated in the enforcement of the SIM Card Registration Act.

“The privacy of the subscriber should be maintained,” Castelo said.—AOL, GMA News