Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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FIRING LINE: SIM law can’t stop scammers

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

The recent revelation that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) registered a SIM card using a photo of an animal resembling an ape is nothing short of a farcical exposé of the sorry state of SIM registration in the Philippines. It appears that the so-called Father of Philippine Cybersecurity, Engr. Allan Cabanlong, hit the nail on the head when he criticized the rushed implementation of SIM registration.

Information and Communication Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy’s haste in pushing through with the SIM registration law without integrating telco and government databases has left us with a silly system. What’s the point of identifying misfits using registered SIMs when there are no means for validating their identities through the government database?

Senator Grace Poe’s demand for an explanation from telcos is entirely justified. We’ve witnessed an uptick in text scams and criminal activities exploiting registered SIMs, rendering the SIM Registration Law little more than a toothless paper tiger.

The government must invest in a fully implemented national ID system with biometrics, as Ariel Tubayan of Globe Telecom suggested. Or we’ll end up hunting for burglars, scammers, and misfits hiding behind cat faces, elephant tusks, and ape smiles.

Scrap CIF of OVP, DepEd

According to a former Senate president, exclusive access to the Confidential and Intelligence Funds (CIF) should be reserved for agencies directly involved in maintaining security and peace. I agree.

Agencies tasked with national security can easily brief the President and Vice President on their operations. There’s no need to allocate intelligence funds to entities like the OVP and DepEd, which have no direct involvement in national security.

It’s about fiscal responsibility and ensuring resources are channeled where they matter most. Let’s keep the CIF streamlined and strategic, sparing no room for unnecessary allocations. After all, in the realm of national security, precision is paramount.

NSC focusing on TikTok?

Perhaps you’ve also read that the National Security Council (NSC) is planning to ban TikTok for reasons of national security because the company behind it is Beijing-based Byte Dance.

I get the paranoia, but what’s funny is that we’re banning TikTok, but our government is permitting Chinese Telco towers and casinos near our military installations. Isn’t that like locking the front door but leaving the windows wide open?

So, when the NSC thinks of keeping our dance techniques and recipe secrets safe from unreachable through the digital realm, it must not overlook potential breaches in our critical infrastructure that constitute a clear and present danger.

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