On October 10, 2022, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed into law the SIM Card Registration Act which primarily aims to protect Filipinos from an increasing number of spam text messages and text scams. Human and digital rights groups, however, remain critical and concerned over the law’s impacts on privacy, free expression, and data security.
Under the new law, Filipinos purchasing new SIM cards will be required to present valid IDs and register with their telecommunications provider, while existing postpaid and prepaid phone subscribers must register their SIM cards within a given time period or risk deactivation. Telecommunications companies are also mandated to maintain a SIM card registry of their subscribers. They may also be compelled, through subpoenas or court orders, to disclose the full name and address of SIM card owners.
In response to the law’s passage, digital rights advocates expound further on the possible impact of the law on the safety of journalists, human rights defenders, and the general public, and call on the rest of civil society to monitor the law’s implementation.