POSTSCRIPT / October 13, 2022 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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SIM listing can cut abuse of cellphones

Nobody knows exactly how many SIM cards are out there and who is/are using the number pertaining to each of the Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) in the jungle of cellphones and other mobile telephony devices in operation.

The new SIM Registration Law will highlight the need to balance the individual's right to privacy and the community’s demand for security and order. Photo: Shutterstock

In a nation of 110 million where an estimated 80 million use a smartphone or other SIM-activated device, the near-confusion may be good for privacy, but it’s mostly bad for the community from the point of view of law and order.

Rep. Act 11934, the new law requiring the registration of all SIM cards, seeks to start clearing the confusion which is being used by criminals, scammers, and malicious trolls taking advantage of the difficulty in tracing and identifying SIM card users

Quezon City Rep. Ralph Tulfo, the filing author of HB 506 that eventually became RA 11934, said that with SIM registration, suspicious activity will become detectable and linkable to specific individuals.

He said the agencies having to do with telecommunications should lead the campaign to inform the public about the new law and its implementing rules and regulations, thereby motivating legitimate SIM owners to register with their telecom firms.

The nationwide information drive among users, many of whom may not even have verifiable identification papers, is itself one big challenge. The telcos’ own campaign among their clientele will help isolate the SIM abusers.

Registration will most likely happen within 180 days from the date the law takes effect. The earlier the telcos are able to register subscribers, the better, but they can ask for a 120-day extension provided in the law, Tulfo said.

The registration database is physically and electronically in the possession of and operated by the telco that issued the SIMs. The Data Privacy Act protects the databases and all subscriber information collected during registration.

The government does not operate, control, own, or possess the databases. It can access only specific information from them upon court order or legal process and must always follow the Data Privacy Act.

With the capability of telcos to detect suspicious activity using SIMs enhanced, they would be in a better position to “red flag” or identify patterns of suspicious or illegal operations and follow procedures to restrict, suspend, or stop such activity.

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In 2020, statistics show, there were around 79 million smartphone users in the Philippines, reflecting an upward trend since 2017. It was forecast that by 2025, there would be some 91.5 million smartphone users in the country.

One comparative list of countries with the biggest number of smartphone users, compiled by Newzoo’s Global Mobile Market Report (updated in June 2021), showed:

1. China, 1.44B pop., 953.55M phones, 66% penetration.

2. India, 1.39B pop., 750.5 M phones, 65% penetration.

3. US, 332.92M pop., 273.76M phones, 82.2% penetration.

4. Indonesia, 276.36M pop., 170.4M phones,61.7% penetration.

6. Russia, 146.91M pop., 102.21M phones, 70.1% penetration.

7. Japan, 126.05M pop., 83.03M phones, 65.9% penetration.

8. Mexico, 130.26M pop., 74.78M phones, 57.4% penetration.

9. Vietnam, 98.17M pop., 66.9M phones, 68.2% penetration.

10. Germany, 83.9M pop., 66.15M phones, 78.8% penetration.

Note that the ranking, with no country listed as No. 5, is based on the number of smartphone users and not on penetration.

In Newzoo’s Global Mobile Market Report 2020, the Philippines ranked No. 18 with 41.31 million smartphone active users in a population of 109.6 million, or a 37.7 percent penetration. In the previous year (2019) the Philippines was No. 16.

Research groups do not agree on their ranking of countries. Data from Statista show the Philippines with 84.67 million smartphone users this year (2022), and 82.33 million users in 2021.

Smartphone users in the country are expected to number 90 million by 2021, according to the 2016 Ericsson Mobility Report (Jiao, 2016).

 Capampangan cultural fest at Clark

The Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI), focused on revitalizing Kapampangan arts and culture, will present on Nov. 25 the highly acclaimed Arti Sta. Rita, a group of performing artists led by the versatile performing artist Andy Alviz.

The event to be held at the Royce Hotel at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga is dubbed “Renaissance of  Kapampangan Art and Culture.”

Ashley Manabat, CAMI president, said the event is one way the association honors the patrons and supporters of Kapampangan arts and culture and distinguished Pampangos who will be conferred awards of excellence in various fields.

Manabat said the popular creations of fashion genius and philanthropist Philip Torres will also be featured during the event, immensely adding glamour and grandeur to the occasion.

“Fashion producer Torres is the creator of Pidayit fashion, using quality fabric scrap beautifully created and interlinked,” he said. “Pidayit, now gaining popularity here and abroad, has been employing women and many street children to create the Pidayit textile.”

Alejandro “Andy” Alviz, leader of Arti Sta. Rita, has dedicated his life to the renaissance of Kapampangan arts and culture as singer, composer, director, and choreographer.

He has sought to elicit feelings of hope and cooperation among the people of Pampanga. Outside of his own musical creations, he served as resident choreographer for the Miss Saigon productions in Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Manila, and as stage director-choreographer for Binibining Pilipinas.

CAMI is a non-stock, non-profit, non-partisan organization of respected journalists with Capampangan roots aiming to help revive and enhance native arts, culture and heritage. It works to promote and defend freedom of the press and advance the welfare and interests of journalists.

CAMI also aims to upgrade competence and professionalism of Capampangan journalists and helps members in time of need and promote their health and well-being.

Proceeds for Nov. 25 project will finance projects and programs of CAMI such as book publication, medical assistance, and the regular media forum in Clark.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 13, 2022)

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