NTC orders telcos to disable clickable links on text messages

In response to the growth in SMS-based frauds, the National Telecommunications Commission has ordered the three major telco players to disable clickable URLs or connections to harmful sites contained in text messages.

The NTC said in a memo released to the media on Tuesday that telcos should block domains, URLs, links, or QR codes from fraudulent sites based on existing databases collected from government agencies such as the NTC, the National Privacy Commission, the Department of Trade and Industry, the police, and reports generated by machine learning or artificial intelligence.

The public has expressed alarm in the last week as SMS spam messages have become more personalized, containing subscribers’ names and, in some cases, surnames.

Telcos are required to submit a written report to the NTC by September 16.

Despite the usage of personal information in spamming letters, the National Privacy Commission stated that Filipinos’ data was unlikely to have been obtained through a large-scale data breach or contact tracking forms.

The Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigations are also conducting investigations.

Meanwhile, stakeholders and lawmakers have been pressing for the passage of the SIM card registration act, which is expected to aid in the abolition of SMS-related criminal operations.

On September 5, the House of Representatives Information and Communication Technology Committee passed House Bill 14, or the proposed “Act Requiring the Registration of Subscriber Identity Module Cards.”

Telcos have also stated that they are increasing detection and cybersecurity efforts to protect customers.

In order to increase security, mobile wallet GCash previously announced its username anonymity feature, which hides some letters of money transfer recipients.

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