BAYAN welcomes Duterte’s veto of SIM card and social media registration bill

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s veto of the SIM (subscriber identity module) and social media registration bill, calling the controversial proposal a dangerous measure.

Bayan said the bill will undermine privacy and will create a chilling effect on consumers and social media users.

“We welcome the veto of the SIM card registration bill even as we continue to point out state-sponsored attacks on privacy are happening even without the SIM card registration measure,” BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said.

Malacañan Palace announced Friday that Duterte vetoed the bill that would require individuals to register their ownership of a SIM card and use their real names when creating social media accounts.

“The President has decided to veto the consolidated Senate Bill No. 2395/House Bill No. 5793, which seeks to mandate the registration of all SIM cards and social media accounts, with the purpose of deterring electronic communication-aided crimes,” communications secretary and acting Presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar said in a statement Friday.

“The President noted that the inclusion of social media providers in the registration requirement was not part of the original version of the bill and needs a more thorough study,” Andanar said.

He added that Duterte similarly found that “certain aspects of state intrusion, or the regulation thereof, have not been duly defined, discussed, or threshed out in the enrolled bill, with regard to social media registration.”

The President was “constrained to disagree with the inclusion of social media in the measure (as it) may give rise to a situation of dangerous state intrusion and surveillance threatening many constitutionally protected rights,” Andanar further said.

Reyes, in a rare instance of agreeing with Duterte, pointed out that the proposed law is a form of state surveillance on the people and does not deter crime.

‘Weaponized social media’

But the activist leader pointed out that the government has “weaponized” social media and has attacked citizens online.

“On the issue of the proliferation of anonymous troll accounts, this must be addressed first by government dismantling its own troll machinery used against legitimate dissent by the people,” Reyes said.

A big part of the problem is government itself as it benefits directly and indirectly from nefarious online activities, he added.

He also demanded that government must address the spate of Distributed Denial of Service attacks on the websites of human rights defenders and the media.

“The government has not investigated these DDoS attacks which are happening so dangerously close to the May 9 elections,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)