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SIM registration system in Philippines accepts digital IDs with animal faces

SIM registration system in Philippines accepts digital IDs with animal faces

In the Philippines, the NBI ran an “experiment” and found that SIM cards can be registered even with the photo of an animal, calling into question the security of the new digital ID system, says Philstar.

According to Jeremy Lotoc, NBI Cybercrime Division Chief, the division successfully registered a newly bought SIM card into the system using a fake ID bearing the face of a monkey smiling, according to a senate hearing on September 5th.

“The issue we have is that prior to the implementation of the law, there were already fraudulent identities in existence. In fact, as of the moment, they still exist,” said Lotoc, according to the article.

Those in favor of the SIM Card Registration Act said the law would allow enforcers to identify those committing crimes through phones. While the act was intended to curb text scams through mandatory registration, there is no limit to the registered number of SIMs per user, opening the door to fake identity registration, according to Rappler. There are over 118 million registered SIM cards across the nation to date.

Philstar notes that a representative from Globe, one of the country’s largest mobile networks, said the law would be easier to implement if all citizens already completed their application for a national ID, further noting that SIM registration goes directly to the system without the network having a chance to review the application. According to Rappler, the network has asked for access to government ID issuers to validate submitted documents.

A representative from Smart, another leading mobile network, said they verify submitted information and data through processes including OCR. When asked if Smart’s system would accept an application with the photo of an animal, the representative responded that there have been technical glitches, says Philstar.

Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the public services committee, said that the rules of the law can be adjusted to include facial recognition, which is already a part of the system implemented by DITO, another prominent mobile network. The network also uses liveness detection and OCR for ID verification.

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