The debate on PrePaid SIM card registration sparks a rolling debate on big government versus small government. Second, it also speaks of our misconceptions about transnational crimes like terrorism and cybercrime.
Let us talk about big government versus small government.
The proponents of PrePaid SIM card registration point out that by having a list of who bought what, and when, it makes it easier for Police to identify criminals. We should carry the burden that some of our privacy be violated. Setting aside the notion of privacy, this argument gives us a false sense of security.
For one thing, terrorists don’t play by the rules. They’ll either have the ability to steal a mobile phone and the SIM card, and they also have the ability to create fake ids. Both are well within their sphere of capability and opportunity is easy to achieve in either case.
What of the argument that mobile phones can be reported stolen? Sure, they can the whole argument of the Pro SIM card registration is that by giving the government a database of names and addresses they can track down the bad guy. So a stolen phone and a stolen SIM, entirely defeats the purpose of any sim registration.
The whole purpose of a Prepaid SIM is to do away with all the necessary paperwork. Walk into a store, and you get to buy a sim card for less than a dollar. Even if you do present an ID to the sales lady, that person has no way of verifying the legitimacy of the ID. It isn’t like we have a national ID system where each ID could be verified. It isn’t that the terrorist would be using a credit card to purchase the SIM card, now would it?
Sure it can be argued that there is at least some paper trail associated with the SIM card purchase, but does that little benefit be big enough benefit to justify the Energy we will expand to keep track of the database, to deliver the registry to the government, to train the sales lady to look into an ID? Not to mention ensuring that the said database doesn’t fall into the hands of advertisers and marketers.
PrePaid SIM card registration is like asking the security guard in the mall to look under the car for bombs. How many terrorists have we caught that way, btw?
This whole issue doesn’t focus on the real problem at hand: fighting terrorists and fighting cybercrimes. The Philippines is in an area where we have terrorists lurking in training camps in Mindanao or hiding in plain sight. Terror alerts from major countries seem to suggest they know something we don’t. So why not create the ability to know for ourselves, and be part of the war to root out the real criminals rather than focusing on innocent civilians?
What the nation needs is to build its signals intelligence. What is this? Merely the ability to passively monitor all forms of electronic communication from Internet to cellphones. The United States Government has the National Security Agency, which does their electronic monitoring.
“yes, you in the backrow, what is your question.”
“It seems ridiculous. You are against SIM Card registration and here you are, wanting to give the government eyes and ears into our private lives by letting them listen in on our communications? What the hell is wrong with you man?”
The whole point that I was trying to make before being interrupted, US law also dictates that they cannot electronically spy on their citizens without a court order. In this case, by having the Government go through the motions of a court order, everything is above board. there is a check and balance. With a SIM card registration, there is no such check. Everyone’s data is collected without so much as a justification as to why.
Electronic surveillance also gives our government the means to share intelligence with other governments and hopefully these capabilities can help us root out crime in the region. Find out where their banks are. Determine their location. The whole point is to actually give government the proper, long term tools to fight transnational crime and terrorism.
This also doesn’t just extend to terrorists. Security experts know that viruses and trojans and credit card hacks are transnational crimes. We need the means to monitor and find out where these people are. The ability of our government to do that, and to do that properly is invaluable to actually getting justice.
SIM card registration is just one of many half-assed measure that creates big government; adds a layer of bureaucracy and could be used to attack civil liberties. It does very little in fighting transnational crimes, of which both terrorism and cybercrimes really are. We need to give government the right tools for the right job. I am against SIM Card registration simply because the cost in energy to do it, outweighs the potential benefits. Given the limited resources of our government, shouldn’t we expel that energy in ways that would actually solve crime? SIM Card registration will just be part of the noise, we need to listen to the signal.