A fake ID using a photo of a monkey just passed the SIM card registration in the Philippines, according to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). But how did it happen?
In the Senate hearing on Tuesday, September 5, which tackled the proliferation of text scams and reported use of SIMs in illegal POGO operations, the NBI Cybercrime Division revealed that they attempted to register SIM cards from different telecommunications companies using a fake PhilHealth ID with a photo of a smiling monkey. And the result? It successfully passed the SIM card registration.
NBI Cybercrime Division chief Jeremy Lotoc said their investigation showed that a fake identity can still be used to register SIM cards despite the SIM Registration Act, making it more difficult to identify individuals behind scams.
With that, Senator Grace Poe suggested that the implementing rules and regulations of the law should be tweaked to include facial recognition, which is already incorporated in Dito’s system.
Representatives from Globe, Smart, and Dito were also present at the hearing to discuss their process for verifying the data submitted to the SIM card registration systems.
Globe’s legal group head, Ariel Tubayan, emphasized that they don’t see the photos of the IDs as they “directly go to the system” but clarified that they require a selfie and government ID for the SIM card registration. He also mentioned that the National ID would help verify information as it has biometrics.
Meanwhile, Dito Telecommunity government affairs head Niño Martin Cruz underscored that they implemented three features, including ID OCR, face liveness, and face matching, to help them verify user data.
Smart Communications vice president Roy Ibay said they have optical character recognition technology, which not only verifies submitted data and information but also protects their subscribers. He admitted that technical glitches are still possible and noted that the system is not a “plug-and-play solution.”
The telecommunications companies assured they are improving their system and security along with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to carefully verify data submitted to their portals.
To recall, the government implemented the SIM Registration Act, or Republic Act No. 11934, in December 2022, mandating Filipinos to register their SIM cards to continuously access mobile services. The law aims to prevent the use of SIM cards for illegal activities, such as scams, fraud, and cybercrime.
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