Press Release
February 7, 2022

Drilon stands by anti-troll provision in SIM card registration bill
The author of the anti-troll provision says it's about time to address the anonymity in the social media that allows an environment for troll accounts and fake news

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon disputed claims that the anti-troll provision that he introduced in the proposed SIM Card Registration Act was inserted during the bicam and an out of topic or a mere rider provision.

Drilon said he introduced the provision mandating the use of one's real name, instead of a fictitious name, and a registered phone number when creating social media accounts during the period of amendments.

"It's not a bicam insertion. We studied it and introduced it in the plenary as part of our humble contribution in the fight against trolls and fake news. Twenty-two senators voted in favor of the measure on third reading last December. The provision is meant to curb the proliferation of fake and troll accounts on various social media platforms," Drilon said.

"It is not an out of topic provision. It is not a rider provision that those against the measure can cite to challenge the legality of the measure," he stressed.

Drilon explained that the title of the bill clearly mandates the registration of SIM cards for electronic devices and social media accounts to eradicate mobile phone, internet or electronic communication-aided criminal activities.

The bicam later on adopted his provision. The bill is now up for approval by the President.

The author of the anti-troll provision said it is about time to address the anonymity in the internet and the social media that allowed an environment for troll accounts and fake news.

"It is about time that social media companies and social media users operate in the daylight. This anonymity in the social media allows the use of fictitious names which trolls use to propagate fake news and attack anyone endlessly and mercilessly," Drilon said.

The provision, he added, will create a safe environment for social media users, especially children who are also victims of online bullying and harassment on various social media platforms.

"Look at your friends or relatives, maybe a co-worker or classmates, who are victims of trolling and fake accounts. This provision is for them, because trolling, online harassment and fake news happen because the environment today allows it," Drilon said.

"Online bullies hide behind anonymity. Trolls thrive in anonymity. Ask the parents of the kids bullied online before you oppose the measure. All we want here is to address the anonymity in the internet and social media and make a safe cyberspace for our people," he added.

Drilon likewise disputed privacy concerns raised against the proposal, saying that the "duties and responsibilities to protect the privacy of SIM card holders are clearly laid out in the bill."

Drilon said that Section 9 of the bill provides for the confidentiality clause which mandates that "any information obtained in the registration process described under this Act cannot be disclosed to any person."

The disclosure may only be done in compliance with any law obligating the PTE or social media provider to disclose such information in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act. No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012; in compliance with a court order, legal process, or other government regulatory, or enforceable administrative request for information; in compliance with Section 10 of the bill; or with the written consent of the subscriber, he explained.

Section 10 provides for the disclose wherein the PTEs and social media providers, upon order of a competent authority, duly authorized under existing laws to issue subpoena, shall be required to provide information obtained in the registration process pursuant to an investigation of a complainant's verified sworn complaint that a specific mobile number or social media account was or is being used in the commission of a crime or that it was utilized as a means to commit a malicious, fraudulent or unlawful act including libel, anonymous online defamation, hate speech, trolling, or spread of digital disinformation, or fake news; and that he or she is unable to ascertain the identity of the perpetrator.

Drilon noted that no PTE or social media provider shall be held administratively, civilly, or criminally liable on account of any disclosure done in compliance with this Act.

The relevant data and information shall be kept by the PTEs or social media providers for ten (10) years from the time the end-user deactivates the mobile number or social media account, he added.

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