12 September 2023

SUBSCRIBERS Identity Module registration establishes only the ownership of the SIM cards for purposes of readily determining accountability when electronic fraudsters use them to commit cybercrimes.

“And it is only the first step towards an intricate and highly technical approaches which aimed at curbing online scams,” said lawyer Froilan Castelo, Globe Group’s general counsel.

Cybercrimes and other online fraud, however, are reportedly committed pervasively through the over- the-top (OTT) messaging and sim cards issued by international telecom providers whose operations are reportedly beyond the control of Republic Act 11934, or SIM registration law, and other security protocols that were put in place by the local telecommunications companies.

OTT messaging reportedly refers to services that transmit messages over the internet, bypassing the traditional cellular network channels. These messaging apps like Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal and WeChat reportedly allow the users to deliver text messages, multi-media messages, videos, and photos, and make voice and video calls using a wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) or internet connection rather than the usual cellular network’s messaging services.

The OTT apps reportedly operate at a lesser cost yet remain an effective communication tool, especially for international messaging and calls, and can be functional even without SIM card number like the Facebook Messenger.

In coping with the difficulties caused by the OTT messaging being used as an instrument in the commission of cybercrimes, Castelo said Globe is committed to fully cooperate in government’s efforts to crack down on all forms of online offenses.

“Criminals will always try to find a way to circumvent the law, the reason why we are in pursuit with other stakeholders to be a step ahead of their schemes,” he stressed.

As he warned the public against selling registered SIM cards to other persons which is violative of the law, Castelo made an emphasis on the need for multi-stakeholder efforts and enhanced law enforcement drive to address the challenges confronting the government all-out campaign against online scams whose victims are reportedly hard earners.

He said, “we will actively work with the law enforcers in verifying the data on pre-registered sim cards which were confiscated during their operations, and we will readily undertake proactive measures to prevent further commission of cybercrimes.”

Following the end of the registration period for existing SIMs on July 25, 2023, and the five-day grace period on July 30, 2023, Globe has reportedly completed the deactivation of unregistered SIMs.

Globe has also been pursuing a sustained effort against spam and scam messages through a well-established system of detection and SMS blocking. It is reportedly running a 24/7 Security Operations Center which is fortified by an investment of 20 million U.S. dollar for a stringent filtering infrastructure.

In a statement, Globe said it maintains a ‘Stop Spam’ portal where subscribers may report spam and scam messages that they receive. It also said that Globe is ready to work with the Philippine National Police in establishing PNP’s own spam and scam reporting system where the public may lodge text or call related fraud.

“As proof of its desire to be a valuable partner of the government in curbing online scams, Globe is proud to report that it is the only telco that strictly blocks all person-to-person SMS with links, a measure it introduced in September last year. With this strict blocking protocol, Globe continues to reach record high in its spam and scam SMS blocking with more than 2.2 billion from January to June 2023 alone,” Castelo ended.