The House of Representatives has approved on second reading House Bill 7233 which seeks to require the registration of all users of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards.
The proposed “Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act” aims to help law enforcement agencies in tracking down lawless criminals who use mobile phones with post-paid and pre-paid SIM cards to pursue nefarious activities, such as kidnapping for ransom and petty crimes like theft.
The bill defines “SIM” as the Subscriber Identity Module, which is an embedded circuit that securely stores international mobile subscriber identity and related keys used to identify and authenticate subscribers on mobile devices, such as mobile phones and computers.
It refers to “SIM card” as a removable card into which an electronic integrated circuit is embedded and is transferable between different mobile devices.
“Public Telecommunication Entity or PTE” refers to any person, natural or judicial, government or private, engaged in the provision of telecommunications services to the public for compensation.
The bill mandates the sale and registration of SIM cards by directing every PTE or direct seller to require the end-user of a SIM card to present valid identification with photo to ascertain the latter’s identity.
The PTE or direct seller shall also require the SIM card end user to accomplish and sign a controlled-number registration form issued by the respective PTE of the SIM card purchased.
All direct sellers are mandated to register in the SIM card registration form the following information: full name, date of birth, gender and address of the end-user appearing in a valid government-issued identification document with photo.
The bill also requires end-users who are foreign nationals to register their full name, passport number and address in the SIM card registration form.
It also requires the PTE to submit to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) a verified list of their current authorized dealers/agents nationwide, within 30 days after the effectivity of this Act.
The measure prohibits the disclosure of any information in the SIM card unless access to information has been granted upon written consent of the subscriber, or upon a duly issued subpoena or order of a court upon finding of probable cause, or upon written request from a law enforcement agency in relation to an ongoing investigation, that a particular number requested is used in the commission of a crime or that it was used as a means to commit an unlawful act.
All PTEs are required to maintain a SIM Card registry of their subscribers and submit this to the DICT every six months.Likewise, they are required to keep the data of their subscribers, and the DICT shall ensure that this data is kept with utmost confidentiality.
The measure mandates all existing mobile phone subscribers with prepaid SIM cards to register with their respective PTE. Failure to register within the prescribed period shall authorize the PTE to automatically deactivate its services to the concerned prepaid SIM card subscriber.
The bill imposes penalties for any violation of this Act. If the offense is committed by a PTE, the President and other executive officers shall be held liable and shall be punished with a fine of P300,000 for the first offense; P500,000 for the second offense; and P1 million for the third and subsequent offenses.
If the offense is committed by a direct seller, the penalty of suspension of its operation and a fine of P5,000 to P50,000 shall be imposed.
If the offense is committee by an officer or employee of an implementing agency under the Act, a penalty of suspension or dismissal from service and a fine to be determined by the court shall be imposed without prejudice to the filing of an appropriate criminal, civil and administrative case.