A LAWMAKER on Saturday protested the SIM Card Registration proposal, saying it is poised to infringe on the privacy of subscribers and will become an additional burden to mobile phone users.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said mandatory registration for prepaid mobile phone subscribers is not the answer to terrorism, crime, or the impunity that persists in our country.
“We at Bayan Muna see the great risk of misuse of registered user’s personal information and exchanges as being proposed today by some legislators,” Zarate said.
“The current set-up is subject to abuse by authorities and criminals for racketeering [like the spam texts], harassment and extortion of civilians. There are already many reports of surveillance, threat and harassment of activists through their mobile phones,” Zarate said.
Zarate also said the proposal could easily extend to all online activities with the aid of the Cybercrime Law.
“Real time collection of data is unconstitutional, as it blatantly violates the right to privacy. However, for the intention of the SIM Card Registration proposal to deter crime to be effective, it must have access to all mobile phone exchanges as it happens. There would be a virtual Big Brother trafficking all our mobile phone exchanges,” Zarate added.
Zarate, who stressed the burden of registration will be on subscribers, said “Prices of SIM cards and prepaid credit are also expected to shoot up because telcos will pass the additional cost of registration to subscribers if this proposal becomes law.” Maricel V. Cruz
The almost 100 million prepaid SIM card users will have to line up in the few offices of the NTC and present valid IDs to register their SIMs, and most probably have to pay for registration,” he added.
The National Telecommunications Commission has only one office region, numbering only 15 nationwide.
He said SIM card registration would face administrative challenges as 90 percent of all SIM cards in the country are prepaid.
“This is an administrative nightmare for the government to make sure that the almost 100 million prepaid subscribers’ data are safe. This is not an expense that the government should prioritize,” Zarate said.