The unregulated purchase, use, and deactivation of SIM cards made it difficult for law enforcement agencies to identify and apprehend those who commit wrongdoings with the use of cellular phones. For years, it has been common to see news articles of victims falling prey to scams and/or other cybercrimes, only for us to be reminded to be more careful in dealing with unknown contacts who reach out to us out of the blue.
Aimed at putting an end to the perpetration of crimes through the use of unregulated SIM cards, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed into law on 10 October 2022 the SIM Registration Act or Republic Act (“R.A.”) No. 11934.
Section 4 of R.A. No. 11934 introduces the system of mandatory registration of SIM cards as a pre-requisite to its activation. All SIMs to be sold by Public Telecommunications Entities (“PTEs”) or resellers shall be in a deactivated state. All existing SIM subscribers shall register their SIMs with their respective PTEs within one hundred eighty (180) days from the effectivity of the law, which may be extended by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (“DICT”) for a period not exceeding one hundred twenty (120) days. Failure to register the existing SIM shall result in the automatic deactivation of the SIM, which may only be reactivated after registration.
For existing postpaid subscribers, the PTE shall include their data in the SIM Register to align with the registration requirements of the law.
Under Section 6 of R.A. No. 11934, a “SIM Register” shall serve as the PTE’s database containing information required under the Act, which are the full name, date of birth, sex, and address of end-users. PTEs shall ensure that these data are secured and protected at all times and shall comply with the minimum information security standards prescribed by the DICT, consistent with internationally-accepted cybersecurity standards and relevant laws, rules, and regulations.
In case of any change in the information of the end-user, or the loss of the SIM, death of the end-user, or any request for deactivation, the end user shall immediately inform or report to the PTE, which in turn shall deactivate the SIM within twenty-four (24) hours. However, the PTE is obliged to retain all information for ten (10) years after deactivation.
Should an end-user receive a suspicious or potentially fraudulent text or call, the PTE is obliged to provide reporting mechanisms for their subscribers and shall, upon due investigation, deactivate, either temporarily or permanently, the SIM used for the fraudulent text or call.
Under Sections 9 and 10 of R.A. No. 11934, all information obtained during the registration process shall be absolutely confidential. However, disclosure of the full name and address of an end-user shall be made only in four (4) instances: (a) in compliance with any law obligating the PTE to disclose such information in accordance with the Data Privacy Act; (b) in compliance with a court order or legal process upon finding of probable cause; (c) upon the issuance of a subpoena by a competent authority based on a sworn complaint that a specific mobile number was or is being used in the commission of a crime or that it was utilized as a means to commit a malicious, fraudulent, or unlawful act, and that the complainant is unable to ascertain the identity of the perpetrator; or (d) with the written consent of the subscriber.
Section 12 of R.A. No. 11934 provides that within sixty (60) days from the effectivity of the law, the National Telecommunications Commission shall set the guidelines for the monitoring and proper implementation of the law and shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations for the effective implementation thereof.
R.A. No. 11934 shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. Considering that the law was published in the Official Gazette on 12 October 2022, it took effect on 27 October 2022.
This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not offered and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion.
Luke Morgan B. Codilla is an associate of the Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW), Davao Branch.
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