Forced SIM registration causes rise in scams

This article is available in Pilipino

Digital rights defenders under the Junk SIM Registration Network (JSRN) protested before the National Telecommunications Commission office today, June 20, to once again call for the repeal of the SIM Registration Act and to hold Ferdinand Marcos accountable for the increasing number of scams in the Philippines.

The group said scammers are increasing because of the law itself and not because of its “weak implementation.” This is JSRN’s statement after the National Telecommunications Commission admitted that SIM registration is not a “silver bullet” or a guaranteed solution to quickly and effectively combat text scamming and other cybercrimes. The inutility of the SIM Reg Act was again highlighted when thousands of SIM cards and cellphones believed to be used in various types of scams were confiscated from the offices of the Philippine offshore gaming operator or POGO.

Jenna Rodriguez of JSRN said the increase in scams is a natural consequence of the SIM Registration Act. “The increase in scams is by design,” she said. “From the start, SIM registration was a false solution that has made it easier for scammers to exploit loopholes and access sensitive information.”

“SIM registration further hides the deceptive identity of scammers,” she said. “By registering their SIM cards under fake or stolen identities, scammers can appear legitimate, making it easier for them to deceive unsuspecting individuals.”

Apart from this, the SIM Reg Act has created vast databases of private details of millions of Filipinos, which then become targets of cyber attacks. “These databases, coupled with the government’s irresponsible handling of public data, as evidenced by various instances of data leaks and breaches, is a ticking time bomb that will ultimately be a burden for Filipinos and our national security,” she said.

The group condemned Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who made the proposal a priority and enacted the compulsory registration. “The blame falls on Marcos for pushing this ineffective law,” Rodriguez said. “It must be immediately repealed. Our digital rights must be protected. The Marcos government, particularly the NTC, must be held accountable for the rise in scams and data breaches.”

In addition to the repeal of the SIM Reg Act, privacy defense and digital rights groups also demand the immediate erasure of extensive personal data in the hands of state security agencies and private telecommunications companies.

AB: Forced SIM registration causes rise in scams