SIM card registration law brings false security, greater threat to people’s rights

“The SIM card registration is another attempt of the government to institute false public security, when it has failed to uphold the people’s right to security and privacy by being the primary source and enabler of more threats like data breaches, surveillance and poor implementation of laws on data privacy,” said rights group Karapatan, as it deplored the passage of the law signed yesterday by Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

Rights group Karapatan said that the SIM card registration law may be a prelude to more breaches to the security and privacy of the people, when in fact, the government has continued to fail in implementing the Data Privacy Act, and enforce the law against scammers and hackers, among others.

“The prevalence of online scams, hacking, and other data breaches against many Filipinos is a serious concern that should be addressed by the government. However, it should not be passed on to mobile phone users, while at the same time exposing their personal information through the mandatory registration of their SIM cards,” said Palabay.

Palabay said that surveillance and other attacks to people’s right to privacy and security are most often perpetrated by State forces, and has endangered many by using their personal information against them. Examples of these, according to Palabay, are physical surveillance, surveillance of phones and social media accounts, and attacks against websites with content that is seen as critical to government that became a prelude to potential attacks, like arrests or crackdown of people who they believe are a threat to so-called national security.

“How can we trust the government to implement a law that will only institutionalize the gathering of people’s information and data? We fear that the law will just make anyone a target to possible surveillance and harvesting of data. Instead of targetting the real wrongdoers, the SIM card registration law only swings out a pointless crackdown against dissent and exercise of freedoms,” said Palabay.

“While the poor majority need policies to address the rising prices on food and basic commodities, low wages and poverty, the Marcos Jr. administration chose to prioritize, as its first signed law, the enactment of a measure that would pose greater risks to the people as they demand for protection and defense of their rights,” she said.