THE HOUSE of Representatives has approved a bill that would require the registration of SIM cards for mobile phones to prevent use for fraud.  

In a vote of 181-6 with no abstentions, the House passed House Bill 5793 or the SIM (subscriber identity module) Card Registration Act on third and final reading.  

The bill requires public telecommunication companies or direct sellers of SIM cards to require the buyer to present a valid identification with photo and accomplish a control-numbered registration form.  

Failure to comply with these requirements is ground for refusal of sale.   

All existing subscribers should also register their SIM cards within six months from the effectivity of the proposed law, which can be extended by no longer than four months upon a valid written request to the Department of Information and Communications.  

Direct sellers should submit accomplished control-numbered registration forms to the mobile service providers within 15 days from the date of the SIM card sale.  

Telecommunication companies are also required to maintain a SIM Card registry of their subscribers.  

In case of loss or change of information of a registered SIM card, subscribers should inform their service provider within 48 hours.  

Information used for the registration of the SIM card will be kept confidential unless there is written consent of the subscriber to access such information, or upon an issuance of a subpoena, order of a court, or written request from a law enforcement agency that a particular number has been used for a crime. 

Telecommunications firms are also required to submit to the National Telecommunications Commissions a verified list of their current authorized dealers nationwide and update the agency every quarter. 

The measure was approved by the House Committee on Information and Communications Technology on Dec. 11, 2019. It was approved on second reading on Dec. 2, 2021.  

A counterpart bill is pending on second reading at the Senate.   

Roy Cecil D. Ibay, vice president of the Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators, said the approval of the bill will lessen smishing cases and boost e-commerce adoption and growth.  

“But this should ensure safeguards that will not unduly displace prepaid subscribers by giving a sufficient SIM registration period and ensuring that the wide adoption or use of the national ID is already in place,” he said.  

The measure has also been supported by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.  

The House approval of the proposed law comes amid the proliferation of various text scams.  

The National Privacy Commission has said among the groups behind at least one of the text scams might belong to an international crime syndicate and called data privacy officers from telecommunication companies to a meeting to address the growing problem. — Russell Louis C. Ku