January 27, 2023

Eureka News

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SIM registration glitches, but telcos vow to improve process

THE first day of SIM registration didn’t exactly go smoothly for all three telecom companies, an expectation that became a reality when official registration platforms suffered disruptions and one was even forced to go temporarily offline.

Globe Telecom Inc. on Tuesday announced the temporary shutdown of its SIM registration portal but promised to bring it back online “within the day”.

At the time of going to press, the registration website is still unavailable. However, several Globe subscribers were able to access the site and register between 4am and 7am, “but the portal went temporarily offline as the site is optimized.”

“We would like to thank our customers for registering early. The technical teams are working twice to enable the online platform to go live before the day ends. Rest assured that we are optimizing our systems to offer you a better registration experience. We also want to remind our customers that there is plenty of time to register,” said Yoly C. Crisanto, Globe Group’s Chief Sustainability and Corporate Communications.

She said Globe was preparing for the implementation of the SIM Registration Act but had to recalibrate its system in just 15 days as new guidelines were released under the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), including the verification step through a “selfie” .

The IRR of Republic Act (RA) 11934 was promulgated on December 12th.

“We ask our customers for their understanding as we experience the birth pangs of this massive use of software. We create the conditions for our customers to have a good digital experience,” said Crisanto.

“Potential Minor Vulnerabilities”

In an update released at 8 p.m. Thursday, Globe said it had discovered “potential minor vulnerabilities” on its microsite that require careful patching to prevent a serious threat to customer data.

“We take this very seriously, so even minor issues are given the utmost attention. This happened in spite of all the preparation, technical testing and due diligence we carried out,” the company said.

“We apologize to our mobile customers, especially those who wanted to take advantage of the first day of SIM enrollment.”

Globe said it also notified NTC of the problem on its SIM registration portal on Thursday.

“These issues prompted Globe to take proactive measures to temporarily make the website inaccessible as the security of customer data is of the utmost importance and any identified issue will be treated with the utmost rigor,” it said.

“In light of this development, Globe has asked the NTC to monitor our SIM registration portal for a maximum of 72 hours from today (December 27) to ensure that all patches made are technically stable.”

Before the glitch, Globe said its SIM registration portal went live in the early morning of December 27, allowing at least 20,000 customers to register.

Globe said it takes full responsibility for the actions it is taking and stands ready to accept any regulatory penalty where warranted to prioritize protecting its customers’ privacy.

Other portals

Meanwhile, Smart Communications Inc.’s registration portal had a few glitchy moments and displayed a 502 Bad Gateway Message, indicating that servers are not communicating properly with each other.

Postpaid subscribers had it easier. At least in Smart’s case, all that reporter had to do was confirm his identity by texting “yes” to 5858.

A spokesman for Dito Telecommunity Corp. For its part, said the registration process for the third telecom company went “generally smoothly,” noting that about 208,039 subscribers had been registered as of 3:00 p.m.

A day before registrations began, telecoms and even the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) admitted they were in “birth pangs” for the first implementation of the SIM Registration Act.

These include early attempts by scammers and bad actors to use fake registration pages to hack devices, as well as the need to streamline some implementation processes.

In response, ICT Secretary of State Anna Mae Y. Lamentillo said the agency has set up a 24/7 complaints center where the public can report problems related to SIM registration.

According to Lamentillo, the 24/7 complaints center will serve as a “support system” for the implementation of SIM registration, as this will provide a platform for SIM subscribers to raise their concerns or make suggestions to improve the process.

“[W]We have established a 24/7 complaints center so concerns can be reported immediately and prompt action taken.”

The SIM Registration Complaints Center will report to the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), an agency affiliated with the DICT.

According to Lamentillo, the first two weeks of implementing SIM registration is considered a testing period during which some glitches or technical issues are expected as the public telecoms optimize their respective processes.

“Increases accountability”

Rep. Ron P. Salo of the KABAYAN party list reminded telecom users they have 180 days to comply with the law.

“People shouldn’t worry if they can’t register their SIMs right away because the law provides for a 180-day compliance period, which can be extended if necessary,” Salo said in a statement.

“I also remind the NTC of this [National Telecommunications Commission] and network operators to continuously improve their systems to meet the requirements of this law. I urge them to make the registration process as seamless as possible to make it much easier for our citizens to comply with the law.”

The RA 11934 IRR stated that all users are required to register their SIMs with their respective networks. Failure to register will result in the deactivation of their SIMs.

“The SIM Registration Act strengthens the responsibility of users when using mobile communications through mandatory registration. It aims to deter unscrupulous individuals from committing illegal acts through the use of cellular networks by revealing the identities of users,” Salo said.

“I commend the Filipino people for their enthusiasm to uphold this law. It just shows that our citizens are law-abiding and support our government’s initiative for an orderly society.”

With an account by Jovee Marie N. Dela Cruz