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11 January 2010
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Philippines to require mandatory registration of sim cards

Prepaid mobile phone users in the Philippines will soon have to disclose their identities once the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) implements a proposed circular requiring all subscriber identification module (SIM) cards to be registered, reported the Manila Times.

Prepaid SIM cards, unlike the post-paid variety, can be bought without any identification requirements for as low as 20 peso (1$=49 peso).

The draft circular titled “Mandatory Registration of Subscriber Identity Module Cards,” aims to address problems like text scams, terrorism, theft, text spamming and other illegal criminal activities such as kidnap for ransom.

Data from NTC showed that in November 2009 alone, the number of text-scam complaints reached 743 cases, while phone theft rose to 784 cases.

Under the circular, the registration of already issued or newly purchased SIM will be mandatory.

“All cellular mobile telecommunications service [CMTS] providers shall ensure that the identity and addresses of the person/s purchasing SIM cards from them are verified and recorded,” the NTC draft circular read.

Once approved, the telcos’ vendors are mandated to register the identity of the buyer of the new SIM by requiring them to present valid IDs set by the regulator.

The existing SIM cards will also be registered on a gradual phase. At end-September last year, the country’s total mobile phone subscribers stood at more than 70 million.

Douglas Michael Mallillin, NTC deputy commissioner, however, said the draft circular would be issued if Congress fails to pass the pending bills on the same subject.

“We are coordinating with Congress. If they don’t re-file, we might have to lobby or initiate the filing,” Mallillin said.

Pending at the legislature are House Bills 92 and 1313, which seek to regulate the sale of prepaid SIM cards by requiring buyers to be properly identified and their addresses verified through the presentation of valid IDs.

Countries that already implement SIM cards registration are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Brunei.


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