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Globe blocks all messages with clickable links amid scam and spam texts

By NICK GARCIA Published Sep 30, 2022 2:04 pm

Telecommunications company Globe on Sept. 30 has started temporarily blocking all text messages containing URLs or website links—in light of scam and spam messages hounding Filipinos.

"Before implementing this measure, what we were doing was blocking access to malicious links in text messages to help protect customers," Globe Chief Information Security Officer Anton Bonifacio said in a statement, noting that it's the actual message that will be blocked this time around.

"If the SMS has a link of any kind, we are not going to deliver it, period."

Last August, many users took to social media to complain about the scam texts they're receiving, some of which bearing their full names. But the National Privacy Commission on Sept. 7 said it least likely came from third-party data brokers contracted by telecommunication companies, much less the COVID-19 contact tracing apps.

From January to July, Globe said it has blocked 784 million scam and spam messages Some 14,000 scam-linked mobile numbers were also deactivated, while nearly 9,000 more were blacklisted.

Bonifacio noted that Globe has over 92 million subscribers, while its e-wallet platform GCash has 66 million.

Last Sept. 8, GCash started omitting letters of names in transactions amid data privacy concerns. The telco company also earlier announced that it will stop sending advisories via text.

The 19th Congress approved the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) Registration Act on Sept. 27. The Senate approved it on third and final reading earlier in the day, while the House approved its version a week ago, on Sept. 19.

Under the measure, citizens must provide to telcos their personal information that includes their full name, birthday, address, and photo from government IDs. Telcos like Globe, Smart, and DITO will store the information in a central database.

The data shall be treated as "absolutely confidential," unless the subscriber says otherwise in writing. It, however, may be accessed through a court order or a written request from a law enforcement agency.

Data breach would incur penalties ranging from P5,000 to P1 million on erring telcos or authorized sellers.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte, however, vetoed the bill passed by the 18th Congress last April because of a provision that also required social media registration, in which users must go by their real names.

The SIM Card Registration Act under the 19th Congress now awaits the signature of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to become a law.

Unless Marcos Jr. vetoes it like Duterte, It will lapse into law after 30 days of receipt. The House of Representatives, however, may overturn a presidential veto by garnering a two-thirds vote.