The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) seeks to repeal the SIM Registration Act as this has implications of endangering the journalists as they conduct their jobs. They have pointed out that such a measure may bring colleagues in danger especially when they are involved in seeking the truth to shed light on precarious issues affecting the country. The likes of such reportage cover those which are about conflict, crimes and corruption.
The SIM Registration Act was signed into law by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in October that requires all Filipinos to register their SIM cards by presenting government-issued identification cards as a measure to deter and combat fraud and text scams. The law is set to take effect by the 27th of December 2022.
“It also poses risks to our news sources and would make our work for transparency and the free flow of information more difficult,” the NUJP said in a statement.
NUJP also agrees with the fears that were raised by other groups that the law can be weaponized against the masses that can be targeted for surveillance — noting the “relentless” red-tagging of government critics.
SWS survey: 60% of Filipinos OK with SIM Card Registration Law
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed the latest results of the survey they conducted on the matter of the SIM Registration law. It shows that majority of Filipinos — 60% are okay with it.
This is despite critics and organizations voicing their concerns about the eventual implementation of the law. This can lead to data breaches and privacy violations despite being the main tool to squelch scams and other crimes.
Survey result details
Do note that the survey was conducted a week before Republic Act 11934 was signed into law.
The SWS poll showed that 60% of the 1,500 respondents were in favour of the new measure, while 17% expressed disapproval and the remaining 23% were undecided. This yielded a net approval score of +44, classified by SWS as good.
You might want to read: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Signs SIM Card Registration Act (RA 11934)
The highest net approval of the SIM card registration law was in Balance Luzon (+47). It was followed by Mindanao (+45), Metro Manila (+43) and Visayas (+34).
The SWS survey also revealed that 66% of the respondents believed that SIM card registration would help fight crimes committed through mobile phones. Those who did not believe this will meet the objective were only at 10% and the remaining 25% were undecided.
Another detail on the survey tackled the net belief score and this resulted in a +56, which is classified as very strong. There was a rating of 48% who believe that SIM card sellers can be trusted to protect the private information provided by buyers.
There are 11 human rights organizations that are calling on the Philippine legislature to repeal or substantially amend the fatally flawed SIM Card Registration Act. They have pointed out that there is a possible threat to the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and information, and non-discrimination in the Philippines.
Human rights advocates such as Karapatan have consistently stated that the new law could lead to more breaches of security and privacy as well as legitimize surveillance of people who the government considers to be a threat to national security.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr reiterated in a previous statement that any information in the SIM card registration will be treated as confidential, “unless access to this information has been granted by the written consent of the subscriber.”
The surveys were conducted via face-to-face interviews. The sampling error margins are ±2.5% for national percentages, ±5.7% each for Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao, and ±4.0% for Balance Luzon.
There are contradicting movements here wherein both tackle legitimate grounds. My vantage on this would be how effectively the SIM Registration law will be implemented in the long term. There should be clean, strict and transparent measures as to how the details will be kept safe and won’t be weaponized by any party. Any thoughts on this dear readers? Is there another way how to really put a stop to scams and fraudulent activities using mobile devices? Comment down below and let us know your thoughts on this, too. Hope to hear from you soon, thanks!