MozillaPH on DICT’s Threat of Cutting Off Internet Services to Non-SIM Card Registrants Before the New Deadline
At a press briefing in the Malacañan Palace held last 25 April 2023 (live-streamed by the People’s Television Network – PTV), DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy said, “I urge the public to really register quickly. We are now exploring other options to incentivize registration. One, we are talking to our telcos; during the 90-day period, we will observe the rate or registration and after a certain period of time, we are seeing maybe 30 days or 60 days into registration, we will start deactivating some services on the SIM Card. So, for those who are registered within the first 30 or 60 days, we are still deciding on the date, but let’s say after the 60 days you will lose your access to your Facebook accounts, or to your TikTok accounts, but you still can use your phone: you can still call, you can still text (SMS), and then after a certain period, you will lose your outgoing calls so that way ‘randam ninyo kung ano ang effect ng hindi kayo nagpaparehistro’ (you will know the effect of not registering)… We are exploring the possibility of gradually doing this. In that way, it will definitely make the public feel that we’re serious with the deactivation without completely cutting them off the services. After the 90 days, that’s when they will feel the full cut off of all services.”
While the extension of the SIM Card Registration provides some relief to Filipinos who have yet to comply with the mandatory enrollment, the threat made by the DICT Secretary to cut off certain Internet services to non-registrants even before the new deadline is concerning.
Cutting off access to certain Internet services is a violation of citizens’ basic rights and could have serious consequences for the country’s digital infrastructure. The government must ensure that all citizens have access to the Internet, which is a fundamental tool for communication, education, and economic development. Instead of resorting to punitive measures, the government should focus on educating citizens on the importance of SIM Card Registration and implementing measures to facilitate the registration process.
We urge the Philippine government to reconsider the threat to cut off internet services and instead work towards ensuring that all Filipinos have equal access to the internet.
The Mozilla Philippines Community (MozillaPH) is committed to ensuring that the Internet remains an open and accessible platform for all people, regardless of their location or economic status. We believe that cutting off Internet services can have a detrimental impact on the ability of people to access information, communicate with one another, and participate in society. We support policies and initiatives that promote universal access to the Internet, including initiatives that aim to bring connectivity to underserved communities.