Fil gamers, freedom groups unite against SIM card registration bill

It is not strange for one to express wariness about how large the internet, specifically social media, can operate these days. Just about every information about every single subject and issue can be accessed with a click. 

When it comes to personal privacy, a higher stake is at risk. With extreme threats of data breaches lurking all over the world, it is easy for our personal information and data to be exposed; which is why a group of concerned netizens has stepped up to the plate regarding the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Act, a bill proposed by the government, which can compromise an individual’s identity.

First off, the SIM Card Registration Act is a proposed bill and, if passed into law, will require all Filipinos using mobile phones to register their personal details to their respective telecommunications SIM card operators. Failure to register will cause the account to be deactivated and the number to retire.

The bill seeks to restrain the rise of SIM cards, internet or electronic communication-aided crimes such as terrorism, text scams, bank fraud, and anonymous online defamation, among others. (Read: Senate okays bill requiring real names for SIM card registration)

Just recently, two of the country’s major communication companies, Globe Telecom and Smart Communications, voiced their support for the measure to “quash the proliferation of fraudulent spam messages, smishing cases and fraud, and will boost telecom security efforts to keep subscribers safe.”

However, much can not be said from the local gaming community and various advocacy groups.

Last week, internet freedom advocacy group Democracy.Net.Ph took to their website to their disapproval of the measure. Through an open letter addressed to President Duterte, the group enumerated multiple disadvantages of implementing such a rule, urging the head of the country to veto the bill. 

“The intent and purpose of trying to eliminate illegal activities enabled by mobile phones, the Internet, or other electronic communication-aided crimes are noble,” said the letter signed by 13 freedom rights groups. “However, the bill is deeply flawed. It contains overly vague provisions, violates constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression, freedom of association, personal privacy, and endangers the safety of Filipino citizens and children,” the group argued. 

Below the letter, the organization then attached an online petition link which they created along with the hashtag #VetoSocMedReg which has been trending since.

For the local gaming community, this proposal also means trouble. Typically in the gaming world, using screen names is the most ideal way to play to protect one’s self from harassment and cyberbullying and also to keep their personal information safe. The bill threatens such prevention as it will also require individuals to use their real names online if passed.

In their efforts to protect their gamers’ safety, the local game Good Knight, which has been popular among the VTuber community, aired its statement of disapproval towards the act over Twitter.

“For gamers, this is a problem as most of us use pseudonyms,” the statement read. “For streamers, our anonymity is something we take seriously.” 

Currently, the bill only needs President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature before it turns into law after one year.

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