Democracy.Net.PH sees no problem with the registration of subscriber identification modules (SIMs) of cellular phones, more commonly known as SIM cards. Registration is already a fact of life and, so far as we can see, people do not seem to mind registering as prerequisite for availing themselves of online and offline services. More than the alleged crime-fighting component, we think that SIM registration would be useful in creating avenues for redress for violations of terms of service between telco and consumers and between and among consumers.
Who retains custody of the registration information? We think that it should be the telcos and that their use of safekeeping of data should be governed by the Data Privacy Act or RA 10173. In this regard, we see further impetus for the activation of the National Privacy Commission and the revamp of the National Telecommunications Commission to ensure against the malicious use of the database.
There are other issues that we see cropping up. If presentation of ID will be a mandatory requirement, what happens to a lot of people who do not have IDs? Implementation of this policy will also lead to admin costs that telcos will surely pass on to the consumers. Finally, the imposition of this largely benign requirement acquires an ominous character in the face of the Cybercrime Prevention Act. To ensure that people’s rights are safeguarded, RA 10175 should be repealed. Ideally, the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom (#MCPIF) should take its place. Any access by law enforcement of the registration information must only come after the due process requirement is hurdled.
The bottomline, however, is that this is a complicated issue. Any rush to implementation is fraught with unintended consequences that may cause more harm than good. Democracy.Net.PH believes this issue must to be debated on by the representatives of the people in Congress.