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House OKs on final reading bill seeking SIM card registration

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill mandating the registration of SIM cards.

Voting 181-6-0, House Bill 5793 was approved during the plenary session.

The proposed measure aims to help authorities in tracking down lawless criminals who use their mobile phones to commit or engage in illicit activities.

The bill seeks the establishment of a system of sale and registration of the SIM card for all users by registering pertinent data in a registration form set up for the phones.

The measure mandates all public telecommunications entities to require the end user of the SIM card to present a valid ID with photo to ascertain their identity.

The PTE or the direct seller shall further require the end user to accomplish and sign a control-numbered registration form issued by the respective PTE of the sim card purchased, according to the proposed law.

Under the bill, foreign nationals are also required to register their SIM cards.

The bill indicates that the following details be registered: full name, date of birth, gender, and address of the end user appearing in a valid government ID with photo.

Under the confidentiality clause, any information in the sim card shall be treated as "absolutely confidential," unless access to information has been granted upon written consent of the subscriber.

Earlier, ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro raised concern that this measure could lead to investigative journalists, witnesses, whistleblowers, and other members of marginalized groups being placed under surveillance or threat.

House committee on information and communications technology chairman Representative Victor Yap noted that the data privacy under this measure should be ensured by telecommunication firms. — RSJ, GMA News