On Thursday, December 16, the Senate of the Philippines approved a bill mandating the registration of all SIM cards in the country on its third and final reading.
Senators passed Senate Bill No. 2395, also known as the proposed SIM Card Registration Act, by a vote of 21-0-0. The bill includes a provision that would require social media platforms to require “real-name and phone number upon creation of account” in order to combat the proliferation of trolls online.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon proposed this clause earlier this year, saying that trolls and those who use “fictitious identities” to register their SIM cards might soon face penalties of up to 12 years in prison or a fine of up to P200,000, or both.
According to the bill, all SIM cards in the country will be required to be registered in order to “deter the proliferation of SIM card, internet or electronic communication-aided crimes, such as but not limited to terrorism; text scams; unsolicited, indecent or obscene messages; bank fraud; libel; anonymous online defamation; trolling; hate speech, the spread of digital disinformation or fake news.”
In addition, Drilon also expanded the bill to include social media.
“This new provision will prevent anyone from making anonymous accounts online. We have to cure trolls that are spreading as fast as the virus that we are battling today,” the senator said in a statement. He added that “Troll is a virus that hides behind anonymity and continues to spread nothing but hatred and disinformation.”
“This provision is a solution to the anonymity that provides the environment for trolls and other malicious attacks to thrive in the age of social media,” he concluded.
Bill sponsor Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile said the measure establishes “another layer of security protection” for Filipinos that would deter criminals looking to prey on them. (Read: VPNs used by cybercriminals seized by global law enforcement)
That said, she added that the bill’s policy of SIM card registration would be implemented “with full regard to our right to privacy.”
“As a champion of privacy rights, we have ensured that the measure was crafted in a manner that accords the highest respect for the Filipinos’ right to confidentiality,” Poe stated. “Such right is sacred now, and it will remain as such even after this bill becomes law and is enforced.”
If you like reading our content, why not show your appreciation by treating us to a cup of coffee? (or two, if you’re feeling generous)