NTC orders telcos to deactivate clickable URLs, links in malicious texts

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2022 09:18 AM | Updated as of Sep 13 2022 09:41 AM

MANILA - The National Telecommunications Commission has ordered the 3 major telco players to deactivate clickable URLs or links to malicious sites contained in text messages amid the rise in SMS-based scams. 

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

The public has raised concerns in the recent week after SMS spam messages have become more personalized, which now contain the names and in some cases, surnames of users. 

Telcos are directed to submit a written report to the NTC on or before Sept. 16. 

Despite the use of personal information in spamming messages, the National Privacy Commission had said the data of Filipinos were unlikely collected from a large-scale data breach or from contact tracing forms.

Investigations of the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigations are also on-going. 

Meanwhile, stakeholders and several lawmakers have been pushing for the approval of the SIM card registration act, which is seen to help eradicate SMS-linked illegal activities. 

House Bill 14 or the proposed "Act Requiring The Registration of Subscriber Identity Module Cards" was approved by the House of Representatives Information and Communication Technology Committee on Sept. 5. 

Telcos said they're also ramping up detection and cybersecurity efforts to protect consumers. 

Mobile wallet GCash earlier launched its username anonymity feature by hiding some letters of money transfer recipients in bid to expand security measures.