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Mandatory SIM Registration

By: Erik Espina

LAST week I wrote about the “PUIDe” (Phil. Universal Identification – card) as another proposition for Congress to consider in order that the country be in tune with world trends on this issue. What must go “hand-in-glove” with said legislation is the passing of a law on ‘mandatory SIM registration’ (SR) for all cell phones. Note, that there are roughly 90 countries around the globe that have passed laws requiring registration for SR, precisely for identifying the real owner and user of the SIM card. Such congressional attention on both approaches is one way for strengthening culpability in the abuse of anonymity via prank calls, malicious texts, etc. to the consternation of government emergency/police services, to include protecting children and our womenfolk.

Given the serious exigencies currently confronted not just by the uniformed/security sectors, and how said threats impact on the stability of the Philippine state, the SR is one more boost for law and order to be responsive in the evolving scene of various media/communication platforms as opportunistic venues for committing anti-social/criminal behavior in the guise of unmolested freedom in the electronic sphere.

Bear in mind, even computer use bear IP addresses, which by expert forensics are traceable. Two main arguments raised versus SR: 1) Infringes on ‘right to tele-communicate’; 2) Did not stop the London Bombing. The mandatory SR may be likened to requiring a “car registration” for purposes of identification e.g. in accidents, use in a crime, regulation etc.

Or property subject to registration and documentation as validation and to protect the vendor and vendee in a sale or resale etc. Cell phones have become platforms, and like cars, may be used for illegal purposes. Regulation is required. On the 2nd argument, this may be likened to the police with a pistol. The pistol is not a guarantee crime will not be committed, but it does not infer an un-armed law enforcer is preferable.

I am also suspicious, the telecom companies are against this proposal since it will eat into their profit margins in the market for unregistered sim cards.