President Duterte rejects SIM Card Registration Act

According to Acting Presidential Spokesperson Martin Andanar’s announcement today, April 15, President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed the Sim Card Registration Act. Last February 2, both chambers of Congress enacted the proposed legislation, which combined House Bill No. 5793 and Senate Bill No. 2395. It requires all public telecom companies (PTEs) to register sim cards before the sale to prevent “the proliferation of sim-card aided crimes.” It also requires all current customers of active services to register their SIM cards within one year of the law’s implementation.

President Duterte “noted that the inclusion of social media providers in the registration requirement was not part of the original version of the bill,” according to Andanar’s statement. Furthermore, the president stated that the bill might jeopardize constitutional rights and result in harmful state intrusion if it is not accompanied by “appropriate rules and definitions.” Despite citing free expression and the right to privacy, the White House applauds Congress’ efforts “to address the increasing frequency of cybercrime and ICT-related offenses.”

The Philippine National Police previously stated that the Sim Card Registration Act would not infringe on subscribers’ privacy, despite requiring the collecting of personal data. Instead, it would be useful in the fight against cybercrime. This came after a number of organizations raised concerns about the legislation’s possible impact on human rights.

“If you recall, we don’t use cellphones; we use landlines, right? And there’s always a public directory that everyone can see, so what’s the difference?” It’s the same thing, except we do it on our cellphones. So wala naman siguro tayo naging problem previously when it comes to privacy,” PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) spokesperson Lieutenant Michelle Sabino said in a press conference last March 30.

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