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Group urges Duterte to veto SIM Card Registration bill

An internet and information and communications technology (ICT) rights advocacy group is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the proposed SIM Card Registration law.

According to Democracy.Net.Ph, a petition for the veto has already been sent to the Office of the President.

The bill, which requires the registration of  mobile phone subscriber identity module cards or SIMs, was ratified by Congress on February 2.

Aside from the mandatory registration of SIM cards, the measure also provides that all social media networks should require the real name and phone number of users upon the creation of their accounts.

Democracy.Net.Ph said although the bill's intention to deter cybercrime and internet trolls, its "provisions offer no real solution to these problems and only limit our right to privacy and expose us to risk by consolidating personally identifiable information on a centralized server."

The bill, the group said, also robs users of the "additional security that anonymity gives us, especially for celebrities, public figures, influencers, activists, human rights defenders, victims of domestic abuse and violence against women and children."

Individuals who simply wish to compartmentalize their personal lives from the rest of their activities will also be at risk if the bill becomes a law, the group further warned.

Democracy.Net.Ph also noted that SIM card registration was "proven" ineffective and inefficient in other countries that enforced it, adding that

According to Senator Grace Poe, chair of the Senate contingent to the bicameral conference committee, lawmakers used the House version as the working draft for the final version of the proposed SIM Card Registration Act but adopted the amendments from the senators.

Among the provisions that they agreed to include in the proposed measure is the line mandating all public telecommunications entities (PTEs) to require the registration of SIM cards as a prerequisite to their sale and activation.

Poe said all existing SIM card subscribers with active services shall register within 180 days from the effectivity of the proposed law.  —KBK, GMA News