By Glen S. Ramos
MANILA — The proposed Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act was vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte last Friday, April 15, 2022.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Communication Secretary Martin Andanar, said that the President has decided to veto the consolidated Senate Bill No. 2395/House Bill No. 5793, which seeks to mandate the registration of all SIM cards and social media accounts, with the purpose of deterring electronic communication-aided crimes.

“The provision ordering the mandatory registration of social media accounts prompted Duterte to veto the measure. He was “constrained to disagree with the inclusion of social media in the measure, without providing proper guidelines and definitions,” Andanar added.

The President, he said, expressed concern that the contentious provision “may give rise to a situation of dangerous state intrusion and surveillance threatening many constitutionally protected rights.”

“It is incumbent upon the Office of the President to ensure that any statute is consistent with the demands of the Constitution, such as those which guarantee individual privacy and free speech,” Andanar said.

The President sought a “more thorough” review of the proposal to mandate social media registration.

Certain aspects of state intrusion, or the regulation thereof, have not been duly defined, discussed, or threshed out in the enrolled bill.

Last February, the Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on contrasting provisions of the proposed SIM Card Registration Act.

Under the measure, Public Telecommunications Entities (PTEs) must require the registration of SIM cards for collection in a centralized database as a pre-requisite to the sale and activation of SIM cards.

The bill has a provision that states, “All social media account providers shall require (the) real name and phone number (of a user) upon creation of account.”

It penalizes those who sign up for social media accounts using fictitious identities with a fine of PHP200,000 and a jail term of up to six years or both.

While Duterte lauded the Congress’ efforts in finding ways to address the increasing incidence of cybercrimes and offenses related to information and communications technology (ICT),

Direct sellers will require the end-user to present their valid identification with a photo along with an accomplished control-numbered registration form provided by the respective PTE.

A person who wants to purchase a SIM card but cannot personally register for a valid reason may opt to authorize another person to buy, given that there is a Special Power of Attorney and proper identification of the principal buyer and representative. (ai/mtvn)

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