House approves SIM card registration bill

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The House of Representatives approved the Sim Card Registration Act with a 167-6 vote on its final reading Tuesday. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 16) — The House of Representatives has approved on final reading a bill authorizing the registration of all Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card users.

House Bill 7233 or the "Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act" seeks to aid in tracking down lawless criminals who use post-paid and prepaid SIM cards to "pursue nefarious activities" such as theft, and kidnapping for ransom. It was approved Tuesday by a vote of 167 for and 6 against.

The bill defines SIM as "an embedded circuit that securely stores international mobile subscriber identity and related keys used to identify and authenticate subscribers on mobile devices."

The registration process requires SIM users to present valid identification to their respective Public Telecommunication Entity (PTE), which refers to a person who provides paid telecommunication services to the public.

The PTE or direct seller, on the other hand, is tasked to submit the registrations through a SIM card registration form with the full name, date of birth, gender and address of the end-user in a government-issued identification document with photo. Foreign nationals are also required to fill out the form.

The measure prohibits the disclosure of any information in the SIM card without the consent of the user unless the information adds value to an ongoing crime investigation and an order of a court upon finding probable cause is issued.

Users who fail to register will have their access to PTE services removed and incur the following penalities: P300,000 for the first offense; P500,000 for the second offense; and P1 million for the third and subsequent offenses.

Meanwhile, a direct seller will face suspension and a fine of P5,000 to P50,000 if they fail to abide by the bill.

The approved bill was authored by Deputy Speakers Gwendolyn Garcia and Sharon Garin and Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, among others.

It will have to be transmitted to the Senate for concurrence before it can signed into law by the President.

Moreover, multiple SIM registration counter bills from the Senate were filed in 2016 by Senator Loren Legarda, JV Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Panfilo Lacson, among others.