The goal of the SIM registration law is to make owners accountable for their own SIMs and to allow law enforcement to go after them in case a SIM commits illegal activities. However, there appears to be a problem, as the SIM registration process can apparently be tricked easily.
In fact, you can use a fake ID with a picture of a monkey to easily trick the SIM registration process — which is exactly what the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Cybercrime Division did when they tested the SIM registration systems of different telcos.
In a Senate hearing last September 5, NBI Cybercrime Division Chief Jeremy Lotoc said that anyone can easily fake their identity online and use a SIM despite the verification systems.
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As fraudsters take advantage of this flaw, text scams continue. “If you’re with the telcos and you see this application form of a monkey smiling at you, what the heck are you doing?” asked Senator Joel Villanueva.
Globe Telecom’s legal head Ariel Tubayan said that they’ve already asked for access to government ID issuers to help validate the documents submitted by SIM registrants.
The telco said that they are aligned with the Senate’s intent to find out why scams and other malicious texts continue to be sent out to mobile users.
“Criminals will always find a way to circumvent the law. That’s why we continue to collaborate with stakeholders to be a step ahead. The SIM Registration Act, which gives teeth to our efforts against fraudsters, is a major initial step towards curbing cybercrime. To be effective, it needs multi-stakeholder efforts and beefed-up law enforcement,” said Globe Telecom Group general counsel Froilan Castelo.
See also: Valid IDs in the Philippines
Meanwhile, DITO Telecommunity’s head of government affairs Niño Martin Cruz said that telcos use “face liveliness” that helps recognize faces during registrations. All telcos also use optical recognition technology that helps verify details on the submitted IDs.
When asked if the said features would’ve prevented the NBI from using a fake ID with a monkey picture to register a SIM card, Cruz said “Supposedly.”
Roy Ibay, Smart Communication VP and head of regulatory affairs, admitted that the possibility of “technical glitches” could occur and that they are in the process of perfecting the implementation of technologies that help verify a person’s identity.
He also noted that the identity verification process through telcos’ portals is not “simply a plug-and-play solution”. He said that telcos are still improving their systems even after the registration of existing users ended.