QUEZON CITY—The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) has released a new report titled “Promises broken and prophecies fulfilled: A look at the SIM card registration rollout in the Philippines”. It is a follow-up to an earlier paper on SIM card registration which the organization published back in 2018.
Released months after the official rollout of the country’s SIM Card registration system, the new report offers a timely assessment of the measure, particularly in relation to its promised benefits, and the risks its critics have consistently warned about.
Specifically, it takes note of seven key issues that have hounded the initiative so far (i.e., as of April 2023): (1) exclusion and low turnout of registrants; (2) technical issues; (3) ineffectiveness in removing scams and spam messages; (4) function creep and surveillance; (5) ineffectiveness in curbing crime; (6) anonymity; and (7) security risks
According to the report, all the glitches, setbacks, and failures documented throughout the ongoing registration period demonstrate how “unprepared, ill-equipped, and weak-willed” the Philippine government is in establishing and maintaining another massive database of personal information.
It concludes with a call for regulators like the National Telecommunications Commission and the National Privacy Commission to step up and hold all those involved in the system’s implementation—particularly the telcos and fellow government agencies—to account for their shortcomings. It also urges lawmakers to consider alternative measures such as the establishment of a voluntary “no call, no text, no email” registry or an explicit prohibition against telcos or content providers sending unsolicited messages intended as commercial or promotional advertisements.
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