“Our names are not illegal!” Militant LGBTQIA+ rights group Bahaghari exclaimed on February 8, days after both the Senate and the House of Representatives ratified the proposed SIM Card Registration Act.
Designed to combat digital crimes such as scams, Internet trolling, and terrorist attacks, the bill requires users to register their SIM cards by surrendering their addresses, birthdays, and real names to public telecommunications entities (PTEs). Users will also be required to provide their names and phone numbers when creating new social media accounts.
“The SIM Card Registration Act is a dangerous attack on people’s rights to privacy, and will no doubt be used as a complement to the Anti-Terrorism Law to further trace, surveil, and crack down on government critics,” Bahaghari said, adding that social media corporations must improve cybersecurity measures instead of forcing users to surrender personal information.
Bahaghari also took issue with the bill’s penalties for the use of “fictitious names,” which includes at least six years in prison, a fine of P200,000, or both.
“Cruelly, the SIM Card Registration Act will also criminalize transgender people and other members of the LGBTQ+ community, many of whom choose a lived name in place of their legal name as an important part of their gender expression,” the group said.
Bahaghari blasted the Duterte administration for “forcing” transgender people to use their deadnames (birthnames that are no longer used by transgender people) in social media.
The group was not alone in slamming the bill, as the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) believed that the SIM Card Registration Act would only support in harassing and red-tagging Filipinos.
“To have such an act would only legalize invasion and surveillance that are both infringing our safety and security, especially for journalists and the youth,” the guild said in a separate February 5 statement.
Reuben Pio Martinez is a news writer who covers stories on various communities and scientific matters. He regularly tunes-in to local happenings. The views expressed are his own.
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