July 6, 2022
Poe refiles bill to end digital, mobile phone-aided fraud
Sen. Grace Poe has refiled her bill seeking to stop all forms of fraud, perpetrated using mobile phones and the internet, which has led millions of unsuspecting Filipinos deeper into poverty.
The essence of Poe’s bill (filed, awaiting no.) is captured by its title, “An Act eradicating mobile phone, internet or electronic communication-aided criminal activities, mandating for this purpose ownership registration of all subscriber identity module (SIM) cards for electronic devices and social media accounts” or simply the “SIM Card Registration Act.”
“We must not turn a blind eye to the untold misery of millions of our people who are further mired in debts and sunk in poverty after falling prey to these unceasing text scams,” Poe said.
Under the bill, public telecommunications entities (PTE) shall require SIM card registration as a prerequisite to its sale and activation. All social media account providers shall also require real name and phone number upon creation of account.
“Registration shall be at no cost to end users,” Poe stressed.
All existing SIM card subscribers shall register with their respective PTEs within 180 days from the measure’s effectivity. An extension of 120 days shall be allowed upon a valid written request to the Department of Information and Communications Technology. Failure to do so will authorize the PTEs to automatically retire the SIM card number.
The registration form shall be accomplished electronically and kept in a centralized database of the PTE, which shall secure and protect it.
No disclosure of information obtained in the registration process shall be allowed except in compliance with any law obligating it in accordance with the Data Privacy Act, upon court order or with the written consent of the subscriber.
Breach of confidentiality by any PTE shall be meted penalties: first offense, a fine not to exceed P300,000; second offense, not more than P500,000; third and subsequent offense, a fine not exceeding P1 million for every offense.
The unauthorized sale of registered SIM cards shall also be penalized by imprisonment of no less than six years and/or a fine of P200,000.
It can be recalled that the 18th Congress passed the Poe-sponsored measure, which faced a snag when it was vetoed by the last administration owing to the provision on social media account registration proposed by former Sen. Franklin Drilon.
Poe said she is open to discussing with her colleagues in the new Congress if the said provision can be incorporated anew in the bill or as a subject of another legislation.
As of March 31, 2022, Globe has 87.4 million subscribers while Smart has 70.3 million. As of end-2021, Dito reported having five million subscribers.
“To many Filipinos, the mobile phone is their only means to survive and thrive. They deserve our all-out protection and support,” Poe reminded.