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Senate OKs SIM Registration bill on final reading

The Senate on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the bill seeking to make SIM registration mandatory.

With 20-0-0 votes, Senate Bill 1310 or the Act Mandating the Registration of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) for Electronic Devices, Regulating for this purpose its Registration and Use was passed by the chamber a week after it was approved on second reading.

Under the bill, all end-users shall be required to register their SIMs with public telecommunications entities (PTEs) as a prerequisite to its activation.

All existing SIM subscribers with active services shall register with their respective PTEs within 180 days from the effectivity of the proposed law.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology may extend the registration for a period of no longer than 120 days.

Should the subscriber fail to register within the prescribed period, PTEs are authorized to automatically deactivate or retire the SIM number and registration.

The deactivated SIM may only be reactivated after registration in accordance with the proposed law.

The bill also tasks the National Telecommunications Commission, in coordination with PTEs, concerned agencies of the government including the Department of Trade and Industry, DICT, National Privacy Commission, and major communication groups to formulate the necessary guidelines in the proper implementation of the real-name registration program through a SIM registration process.

The SIM registration process will be based on several parameters such as submission of duly accomplished control-numbered owner's registration form with full name, date of birth, and address; presentation of valid government-issued identification cards or other similar forms of documents that will verify the identity of the SIM buyer, or a valid passport in the case of aliens, among others.

The proposed law also prohibits minors to register their SIM unless they have obtained the consent of the parent or legal guardian.

Tourists visiting for not more than 30 days shall register their name, passport number, and address in the SIM registration form and present their passport and proof of address in the Philippines.

SIMs registered by visiting tourists shall only be valid temporarily in increments of seven, 14, 30, 60 or 90 days, as the case may be, and shall automatically be deactivated upon expiration of the validity of the SIM.

Foreigners staying for more than 30 days either as workers or students shall register their full name, passport number, and address in the SIM registration form and present their passport, proof of address in the Philippines, Alien Certificate of Registration Identification Card issued by the Bureau of Immigration and Alien Employment Permit issued by the Department of Labor and Employment or school registration and ID, whichever is applicable.

Meanwhile, SIM registration in remote areas with limited telecommunication or internet access shall be facilitated by relevant government agencies and concerned PTEs.

The registration of SIM under the proposed measure will be at no cost to end users.

SB 1310 also provides that the electronic registration forms should be kept by the concerned PTE in a centralized database.

This database shall strictly serve as a SIM registry to be used by PTEs to process, activate or deactivate subscriptions and shall not be used for any other purpose.

The successful submission and acceptance of the required registration form shall serve as the certification of registration by the SIM buyer.

The proposed measure also tasks the PTEs to ensure that the end-users' data are secured and protected at all times. They shall comply with the minimum information security standards prescribed by the DICT consistent with internationally accepted cybersecurity standards and relevant laws, rules and regulations.

SB 1310 also requires the DICT to establish and perform an annual audit on PTEs' compliance with information security standards.

In case of any change in the information after the registration, or loss of the SIM, death of the end-user, or any request for deactivation, the end-user shall inform the PTE.

In case of death of an end-user, immediate family, relatives, or guardians shall report it to the PTE.

In case of loss of the SIM, death of end-user, or request for deactivation, the concerned PTE shall deactivate it within 24 hours from the report.

Regardless of any deactivation, the relevant data and information shall be retained by the PTE for 10 years.

In case of cyber-attack on the SIM Register, the incident shall be reported to the DICT within 24 hours of detection.

PTEs are also required to provide user-friendly reporting mechanisms for their respective end users upon the latter's receipt of any potentially fraudulent text or call, and upon due investigation, deactivate, either temporarily or permanently, the SIM used for the fraudulent text or call.

Section 7 of SB 1310 also prohibits the sale or transfer of a registered SIM without complying with the registration requirements provided in the measure.

Individuals who will engage in the sale of stolen SIM shall be held criminally liable under SB 1310.

Information obtained in the registration process can only be provided upon the issuance of a subpoena by a competent authority pursuant to an investigation based on a sworn complaint.

Section 11 of the proposed measure provides penalties for failure or refusal register a SIM, breach of confidentiality, breach of confidentiality due to negligence, use of fictitious identities or fraudulent identification documents to register a SIM, spoofing a registered SIM, sale of stolen SIM, sale or transfer of a registered SIM without complying with the required registration.

SB 1310's counterpart measure was approved on final reading by the House of Representatives last week.

Senators Grace Poe, sponsor of the measure, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III were named as Senate representatives to the bicameral conference committee on the measure.

Recently, several senators expressed concern over the proliferation of spam and phishing text messages received by end users.

This prompted the Senate public services committee to immediately tackle the SIM Card Registration bills filed in the 19th Congress.

In the 18th Congress, the bill reached Malacanang for the president's signature, but was vetoed by then President Rodrigo Duterte due to the provision on social media registration.—AOL, GMA News