May 22, 2018, 4:46 am
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SIM card pre-listing hurdles House panel

THE House of Representatives on Monday night approved on final reading a measure seeking to require the registration of all users of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards to help law enforcement agencies track down criminals.

Voting 167-6 with no abstention, congressmen approved House Bill 7233 which mandates Public Telecommunication Entities (PTEs) or direct sellers to require the end-user of a SIM card to present valid identification with photo to ascertain his or her identity.

The bill now goes to the Senate. 

Sen. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian said he expects the bill to sail through the Senate, where it already enjoys strong support. 

As early as 2016, seven versions of the bill had already been authored by ten senators: Gatchalian, JV Ejercito, Richard Gordon, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Manny Pacquiao, Vicente Sotto III, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar and Miguel Zubiri.  

PTE refers to any person, natural or judicial, government or private, engaged in the provision of telecommunications services to the public for compensation.

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.

Under the bill, 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 the 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. The PTEs are also required to keep the data of their subscribers, and the DICT shall ensure that this data is kept with utmost confidentiality.

Among the authors of the bill are deputy speakers Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu and Sharon Garin (PL, Aambis-Owa) and minority leader Danilo Suarez. -- With JP Lopez
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