Mandatory SIM card registration to combat cybercrimes: PNP

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MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has advocated for the mandatory registration of mobile phone numbers as part of its increased efforts to combat cybercrimes.

“If you could just imagine, kagaya ng sa ibang bansa, na ang paggamit ng cellphone number or unit ay registered, maiiwasan na gumawa ng scam dahil alam nila na sa kanila yun. Pero hindi ganun eh. (Like in other countries where you register your cellphone number or unit, scams can be avoided because they know it’s their number. But that is not the case). We are lobbying for this, hindi lang naman kami (it’s not only us). It’s still up to lawmakers kung paano gagawin (on what to do),” PNP chief, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said on the sidelines of the launch of the Enhanced Anti Cybercrime Campaign, Education, Safety And Security (E-Access), an online verification platform against cybercriminals, in Camp Crame on Thursday.

Eleazar stated that this is one of the constraints they encounter when pursuing cybercriminals who utilize multiple prepaid SIM cards in frauds and other unlawful operations.

“But for now, aside from lobbying for that, aside from registration of SIM cards, where you cannot just buy it from some store, we are working on the limitation that we have. We are also engaging other stakeholders like Facebook, given the procedures that they have particularly sa pag take down ng postings na di naman dapat nilalagay dun (in taking down posts that should not be posted in these platforms),” he added.

Based on data from the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, netizens can use the E-Access portal to determine whether an e-mail address, website, mobile number, or social media account has been the subject of a verified complaint or is involved in a pending criminal prosecution for cybercrime crimes.

Eleazar stated that the project is relevant because there has been an upsurge in cybercrime as the coronavirus pandemic caused people to stay at home and do work online.

“During this pandemic, nakita natin ‘yung downtrend ng crime natin. ‘Yan ‘yung index crimes (We have seen a downtrend in crimes — the index crimes), the barometer of peace and order. But for cybercrime, makikita natin na tumataas siya (we saw that these increased). We have a cybercrime law pero marami tayong (but we have so many) limitations, pero ang gusto namin, itong (but what we want is a) realistic doable measure na kahit paano ma-alleviate ‘yung dinaranas ng ating netizens (where we can alleviate the plight of our netizens). We are not telling you that we can solve all of these problems but we can assure you that we are trying to improve this one,” Eleazar said.

These include examples of extortion and other Internet-based frauds.

The portal, which can be accessed by visiting cybercrimewatch.pnp.gov.ph, is divided into two sections: cyber web and cybercrime watch.

The cyber web may be used to file complaints and report online scammers, which can be utilized as a foundation for operation, whereas the cybercrime watch is where netizens can verify a social media account, person, mobile phone number, and e-mail addresses with cybercrime complaints.

The website also includes a list of the most often reported crimes as well as advice on how to avoid them, including cybercrimes.

“We need your cooperation on this one, we cannot solve this cybercrime if you cannot report this,” Eleazar said.

He also assured to protect the identities of those who report cybercrime.

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