Hitches expected in first weeks of SIM card registration

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Hitches expected in first weeks of SIM card registration
Subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Information and Communications Technology said Monday that problems may occur in the first two weeks of SIM registration, but telecommunications companies assured that they will be continuously improving their processes.

"The first two weeks will be a test registration. Which means registrations are valid, but there could be some difficulties and minor errors as the implementation process is finetuned," DICT Undersecretary Anna Mae Lamentillo said a day before SIM registration begins.

Representatives from Globe and Dito, however, assured the public that they will be enhancing their registration and verification processes.

"Let us remember that this process that we are doing is, I call it, evolving and continuously improving," Dito chief administrative officer Adel Tamano told a news briefing partly in Filipino.

Sen. Grace Poe, among the proponents of the law that required users to register their SIMs, said the government and telcos should make registration "as easy as texting or sending a message."

"Telcos should have portals for registration that are user-friendly and secure to encourage mobile users to enlist without hassle and interruption of services," Poe said in a statement.

As it stands, all three major telcos — Dito, Globe and Smart — said they are ready to register their subscribers through an online portal or through an app.

READ: A new law now requires SIM card registration. What happens next?

They and the National Telecommunications Commission warned, however, that scammers may use the 180-day registration period to trick people into providing personal information and advised users not to click on links from unknown numbers.

Telcos said they will be reminding users to register their SIMs only through official channels.

The SIM Registration Act was among the laws identified by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as his administration’s priorities and was swiftly and overwhelmingly approved by Congress, which is dominated by his allies.

The law is meant to curb crime and spam text messages, although ICT rights advocates have cast doubt whether it will actually work given the failure of similar measures in other countries.

A similar proposal was rejected by Marcos’ predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte, over concerns that the bill — which then contained a provision for the registration of social media accounts — over concerns that this will “give rise to a situation of dangerous state intrusion and surveillance.”

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla sought to allay fears over SIM registration as he said that sufficient safeguards are in place to protect people’s data.

"Please do not be afraid of the SIM Registration Act. This will not be used for state surveillance or any such nefarious purpose," Remulla said.

"The collection of data by telcos will be under stringent oversight and monitoring of concerned government agencies so the public can be assured that their data and information will be safeguarded."

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