THE Asia Internet Coalition (AIC) said on Monday that it recently submitted a letter to the government outlining security and privacy concerns arising from the upcoming Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act.

“The mandatory registration of SIM cards will undermine security and privacy… by increasing the public and private sharing and matching of SIM users’ information,” AIC said.

AIC is an industry association for internet and technology companies in the Asia-Pacific.

“Companies, third parties and the state, empowered to create individual profiles and give access to vast amounts of user data, inevitably will increase the overall chances of data breaches. This is exacerbated by moving into biometric registration with fingerprints and facial recognition,” the group noted.

Congress recently ratified the bicameral committee report on the proposed SIM Card Registration law.

In the approved version, all public telecommunications entities must register SIM card owners as a prerequisite to their sale and activation.

An individual’s real name and phone number must also be provided upon the creation of an account in any social media network.

AIC argued that information collected as part of mandatory registration, kept for an indefinite period, used for various purposes and applied for secondary uses, including biometric databases, put individuals in particular vulnerable groups “at risk of tracking and targeting, increasing the chances of their private information being misused.”

“The registration requirement will also substantially impact individuals who use social media as a ‘safe space’ to explore their identity, find support, and manage boundaries safely under a veil of anonymity,” it added.

The group likewise said the measure “was not thoroughly deliberated upon and without consultation with relevant stakeholders.”

“Therefore, we request the Government of the Philippines to review the Act, study the provisions further and conduct wider consultation with industry stakeholders — both on the provisions in the existing Act and associated implementing rules and regulations.”

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, one of the co-authors of the bill, has said the proposed law is key to addressing scams and fraud using mobile phones.

“The authorities will finally and promptly (crack down on the) criminals behind this kind of modus operandi when SIM card registration becomes law,” he said in a statement.

He noted that having a record of SIM card owners and penalties against those who give out fake identities will deter illegal activities aided by phone. — Arjay L. Balinbin