SIM Card Registration Law, additional fascist instrument

This article is available in PilipinoBisayaHiligaynon

The repressive SIM (subscriber identity module) card registration bill was enacted after Ferdinand Marcos Jr signed it last October 10. Starting December, SIM card buyers will be required to provide the state and private telecommunications companies their personal details. The said law, known as Republic Act 11934, is Marcos’ first enacted bill.

Under the law, all SIM card buyers must provide their name, complete details of their residence, date of birth and gender which will be identified with the SIM number they purchased. They will also be required to present an ID with a picture or documentation of their identity. Sellers who do not follow the process will be fined.

The law was railroaded despite left and right opposition of cybercrime experts, internet privacy advocates and democratic groups. The forced registration of all SIM card users comprise “unauthorized state surveillance,” the groups said. Weak data and information security protection leaves a huge potential for leakage of personal details.

Opponents of the bill point out that the lack of evidence that SIM registration helps in the fighting cybercrimes. Global System for Mobile Communications, an organization of 750 mobile operators in the world, said there is no evidence from 155 countries implementing mandatory SIM card registration that it is effective against crimes.

Surveillance state machinery

This law forms part of the reactionary state’s efforts to build a machinery of a surveillance state to conduct largescale and systematic surveillance of its population. It will facilitate the identification of an individual’s particular location, monitoring and hindering private communications and profiling (judging individuals based solely on some information). These violate an individual’s right to privacy and anonymity and impedes their freedom of expression. These rights are guaranteed even by the reactionary constitution.

The law grants state armed forces and reactionary agencies encompassing powers to prevent people from promoting their interests and well-being.

The law took advantage of the masses’ anger anger text scamming, phishing and identity theft as pretext to hide its anti-democratic and anti-people agenda. It deceived the people into surrendering their rights and protected privileges.

In implementing this law, the interests of the poor will also be trampled on, especially those in remote areas, who do not have access to the internet and lack the paperwork or valid ID.

Widespread opposition

The SIM card registration law was delayed by several years due to strong opposition by technology experts and workers, lawyers, digital rights advocates and democratic organizations. Some provisions were removed, including required registration for social media accounts. However, the law remains a major threat against state critics and ordinary people expressing disgust against the government.

Expect major chaos in the implementation of the SIM card registration. Many have no valid ID or paperwork required for registration. Many will be affected by widespread deactivization (cessation of services to old SIMs.) Social media accounts and business and bank transactions, and money transactions inside and outside the country using cellphones or personal wifis will surely be disrupted.

Once the law is enforced, sales of telecommunication companies is expected to contract. These companies will shoulder the burden of protecting the database containing their clients’ personal information. Even agency officials tasked by the state to store personal information are not convinced that they have the capacity to protect the privacy of data collected from registered SIM cards.

SIM Card Registration Law, additional fascist instrument