SIM Card Registration Bill: How will it be implemented?

Only one signature is needed for the SIM Card Registration Act to become law. The bill is currently pending President Duterte’s signature. He can either sign it into law, veto it, or let it expire for 30 days and it will still become law.

Sen. Drilon, by coincidence, threw in a last-minute amendment mandating social media businesses to verify users’ identities upon account creation.

“It is our little contribution to fight the anonymity that provides the environment for trolls and other malicious attacks to thrive in the age of social media. This new provision will prevent anyone from making anonymous accounts online so they could attack anyone endlessly and viciously.”

— Senator Franklin Drilon, Co-author

The link between mandatory SIM card registration and social media has been questioned by many.

The most plausible answer is that registering an account requires a phone number, and that phone number can be linked to a specific individual, therefore putting an end to any attempts to remain anonymous on these sites.

So, given the numerous loopholes and work-arounds, how will this be implemented? We’ll know for sure once the bill is passed into law and an IRR is prepared (Implementing Rules and Regulations).

However, for the time being, the most obvious solution is to look at existing legislation requiring all users to identify themselves that are being applied by similar companies.

GCash, PayMaya, Coins.PH, CIMB, ING, and a slew of other companies have done this.

Cropped shot of an unrecognizable man using a smartphone and a laptop while working from home

What are the similarities and differences between these internet platforms? The government requires that users be identified. There are no anonymous or pseudonymous users. How do they manage to do it? To get a Verified account, they must validate their email, phone number (through OTP), and provide a government ID (sending a selfie with an ID on hand).

If this method works for GCash/PayMaya, it should also work for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tiktok, and a slew of other social media platforms.

Another option is to allow users to create an account, login, and browse the site, but they will not be allowed to respond, remark, upload, or write on their walls until they complete the final step in the verification process.

What about companies who do not have a physical presence or office in the Philippines, such as social media companies? These social media sites, like some porn sites, may be blocked by ISPs if they do not follow the law.

We believe that, like the Anti-Cybercrime and Anti-Terrorism Acts, many people will challenge the SIM Card Registration Act in the Supreme Court. Only then will we be able to determine whether or not some of the provisions in this measure are constitutional.

Only one signature is needed for the SIM Card Registration Act to become law. The bill is currently pending President Duterte’s signature. He can either sign it into law, veto it, or let it expire for 30 days and it will still become law.

Sen. Drilon, by coincidence, threw in a last-minute amendment mandating social media businesses to verify users’ identities upon account creation.

The link between mandatory SIM card registration and social media has been questioned by many.

The most plausible answer is that registering an account requires a phone number, and that phone number can be linked to a specific individual, therefore putting an end to any attempts to remain anonymous on these sites.

So, given the numerous loopholes and work-arounds, how will this be implemented? We’ll know for sure once the bill is passed into law and an IRR is prepared (Implementing Rules and Regulations).

However, for the time being, the most obvious solution is to look at existing legislation requiring all users to identify themselves that are being applied by similar companies.

GCash, PayMaya, Coins.PH, CIMB, ING, and a slew of other companies have done this.

What are the similarities and differences between these internet platforms? The government requires that users be identified. There are no anonymous or pseudonymous users. How do they manage to do it? To get a Verified account, they must validate their email, phone number (through OTP), and provide a government ID (sending a selfie with an ID on hand).

If this method works for GCash/PayMaya, it should also work for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tiktok, and a slew of other social media platforms.

Another option is to allow users to create an account, login, and browse the site, but they will not be allowed to respond, remark, upload, or write on their walls until they complete the final step in the verification process.

What about companies who do not have a physical presence or office in the Philippines, such as social media companies? These social media sites, like some porn sites, may be blocked by ISPs if they do not follow the law.

We believe that, like the Anti-Cybercrime and Anti-Terrorism Acts, many people will challenge the SIM Card Registration Act in the Supreme Court. Only then will we be able to determine whether or not some of the provisions in this measure are constitutional.

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