Poe introduces new bill to end mobile phone-assisted digital fraud

PHILIPPINES, July 6 – Press release
July 6, 2022

Poe introduces new bill to end mobile phone-assisted digital fraud

Senator Grace Poe has reintroduced her bill to end all forms of fraud, perpetrated through cell phones and the internet, that has driven millions of unsuspecting Filipinos deeper into poverty .

The essence of Poe’s bill (introduced, pending issue) is captured by its title, “An Act to eradicate criminal activities assisted by cellphone, Internet or electronic communication, making compulsory for that purpose the registration of the ownership of all Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards for electronic devices and social media accounts” or simply the “SIM Card Registration Act”.

“We must not turn a blind eye to the untold misery of millions of our fellow citizens who are further indebted and plunged into poverty after falling prey to these relentless text message scams,” Poe said.

According to the bill, public telecommunications entities (PTEs) will require the registration of the SIM card as a prerequisite for its sale and activation. All social media account providers must also require a real name and phone number when creating the account.

“Registration will be free for end users,” Poe pointed out.

All existing SIM card subscribers must register with their respective PTEs within 180 days of the measure taking effect. A 120-day extension is permitted upon valid written request to the Department of Information and Communications Technology. Failure to do so will allow PTEs to automatically remove the SIM card number.

The registration form will be completed electronically and stored in a centralized PTE database, which will secure and protect it.

No disclosure of information obtained as part of the registration process will be permitted except in accordance with any law requiring it under data protection law, by order of a court or with the written consent of the ‘subscriber.

Breach of confidentiality by a PTE will be subject to penalties: first offence, a fine not exceeding P300,000; second offence, no more than P500,000; third and subsequent offences, a fine not exceeding 1 million pula for each offence.

The unauthorized sale of registered SIM cards is also punishable by imprisonment for at least six years and/or a fine of 200,000 pesos.

It can be recalled that the 18th Congress passed the Poe-sponsored measure, which ran into trouble when it was opposed by the last government due to the provision on registration of social media accounts proposed by the former senator. Franklin Drillon.

Poe said she was open to discussing with her colleagues in the new Congress whether said provision could be incorporated back into the bill or made the subject of other legislation.

As of March 31, 2022, Globe had 87.4 million subscribers while Smart had 70.3 million. By the end of 2021, Dito said he had five million subscribers.

“For many Filipinos, cellphones are their only means of surviving and thriving. They deserve our full protection and support,” Poe recalled.

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