Mandatory prepaid SIM registration sought

Deputy Speaker for Trade and Industry Wes Gatchalian called for the immediate passage of his House Bill No. 5793, the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act, that would help authorities run after people behind fraudulent online activities.
STAR/File

MANILA, Philippines — A bill seeking the registration of all prepaid SIM cards is being pushed in the House of Representatives amid rising cases of online scams.

Deputy Speaker for Trade and Industry Wes Gatchalian called for the immediate passage of his House Bill No. 5793, the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act, that would help authorities run after people behind fraudulent online activities.

“We change SIM cards as fast as we change our soiled shirts. Alarmingly, this seeming boundless stream of supply has become a magnet for nefarious and illegal activities,” Gatchalian said.

He cited for instance the recent spike in fraudulent bookings in food delivery services like GrabFood and Food Panda which rip off both merchants and riders.

“Because users can create fake names and hide behind the anonymity that a prepaid mobile number can give, they become brazen in committing fraudulent acts,” he lamented.

The Valenzuela congressman said telecommunications firms, delivery riders and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) support mandatory SIM card registration.

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“We want to protect the interest of our hardworking food and package delivery riders who have no choice but absorb the expenses and the penalties incurred when they fall victim to these pranks and scams,” he said.

Gatchalian said the proposed measure could also help eradicate text scams. “We would easily be able to ascertain the identity of these scammers as everyone purchasing a prepaid SIM card would now be required to provide a valid ID,” he said.

His proposed registration of mobile prepaid SIM cards goes hand-in-hand with the proposed Internet Transactions Act (ITA), of which he is also a principal author, in curbing illegal activities online.

“SIM card registration imposes liability on the user while the ITA imposes solidary liability on the e-commerce platform with the online merchant in specific instances. With these two laws in place, the e-commerce sphere would be a safer place for consumers and businesses alike,” he said.

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