SENATOR Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada today underscored the need to legislate the registration of all subscriber identity module (SIM) cards in the country to help not only in crime investigation and solution of law enforcement agencies but in improving the government’s cyber-defense capabilities as well.
“These text scams and spams surpass a mere breach of privacy and safeguard from intrusions! This is already a threat to our mobile and cyberspace integrity and safety that has been going on for two decades already,” Estrada said in his co-sponsorship speech of Committee Report No. 5 delivered on Tuesday, September 13.
According to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), they have leads indicating that the source of personalized text scams or unsolicited text messages are based abroad. The DICT said they are now coordinating with their international counterparts to get to the bottom of the matter.
“Wala na pong natutuwa sa mga pangungulit at panlolokong ito. At matagal na rin po tayong binabagabag ng walang patumanggang tangkang panlolokong ito,” the senator said.
“As what our law enforcers have said in our public hearing, this text scam modus operandi has been around as far back as 20 years,” Estrada noted.
As of February 2022, 98.8% of Filipinos aged 16 to 64 own any kind of mobile phone, he said.
“By estimates, let us compute it this way – we are 110 million Filipinos today. Assuming that 55 million out of the 110 million Filipinos who have one mobile number, receive an average of three spam text messages per day – that is 165 million spam-scam text messages a day, that have already evaded the blocking capabilities of both Globe and Smart telecommunications,” Estrada said.
“So that gives us almost 4.95 billion spam text messages that we receive on a monthly basis. Multiply by 12 months, that is a whopping 59.4 billion chances of being scammed thru these pestering text messages! And it only takes one inadvertent click out of these 59.4 billion text attacks in a year for your mobile security to be compromised or for you to be scammed!” the lawmaker pointed out.
As early as 2001, law enforcement agencies have called for the institutionalization of the registration of prepaid SIM cards as a crime prevention strategy, the senator said.
“I am fully on board with this urgent and important mission. It is high time that we give SIM card registration legislation a chance to be enacted into law to save lives and prevent these swindlers from continuously victimizing unsuspecting individuals by sucking in their hard-earned money to deceptive offers from text scammers,” he said.
Estrada delivered a privilege speech last September 5 sounding the alarm on the proliferation of text scams and spam messages as some scammers have already victimized government officials, himself included.