SENATORS pressed for an investigation of the proliferation of spam and phishing text messages as one of their own — Sen. Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay — fell victim to such a scam.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday sought the text scam probe citing the need to protect consumers' right to privacy and security.
"The inclusion of the receiver's name indicates a breach of consumers' right to privacy and this breach stirs fear that their personal details may have already been compromised," Gatchalian said.
Sen. Mary Grace Poe stressed the need to work double time in having a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) Registration law to curb text scams.
"They have become more advanced in intruding into personal data," Poe said in a statement.
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Binay deplored the upsurge in text scams, smishing, text spams and other malicious solicitations and unwanted text messages.
The senator said she recently got the shock of her life when she received a random text message with her name in it.
"Sa totoo lang, nagulat ako (Honestly, I was shocked). It's both an unexplained fear and a terrifying surprise," Binay said in a statement.
She said that a report from Globe Telecom Inc. showed that it blocked an estimated 784 million scam and spam messages from January to July this year.
The same report showed that the telco had deactivated 14,058 scam-linked mobile numbers and blacklisted an additional 8,973.
"Despite the passage of Republic Act 10173 or the 'Data Privacy Act of 2012,' the personal information of the citizens remains vulnerable due to lack of transparency and standards on the processing, handling and storing of personal data collected by mobile applications," she said. "The unabated digital scams will erode the trustworthiness of electronic commerce and may reverse our shift to a digital economy."
Poe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services, will tackle on Wednesday several bills addressing the matter.
She was hopeful that the Senate will be able to pass in November the SIM Card Registration bill.
The senator refiled her own SIM Card Registration bill which will be among the measures for discussion in the hearing.
"All mobile phone users have in one way or the other become victims of scam texts. Stopping fraudsters is a battle we have to urgently wage together," Poe said.
At the House of Representatives, the Committee on Information and Communications Technology approved on Monday a consolidated bill mandating the registration of all postpaid and prepaid mobile phone subscriber identity modules (SIM).
Several measures under House Bills (HB) 14, 59, 116, 506, 794, 841, 951, 1528, 2113, 2478, 2819, 2923, 3299, and 3327 were approved by the panel led by Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco.
"The mother bill is HB 14, filed by House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the exact version approved in the last Congress to require SIM card registration to reduce scams and criminal activities," Tiangco said.
In the 18th Congress, the consolidated measure was passed on the third and final reading.
Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Third District Rep. Aurelio Gonzales pushed to consolidate several SIM card registration bills.
In his sponsorship speech, Tingog party-list Rep. Jude Acidre said that the unregulated SIM card market is to blame for a number of mobile phone scams.
"We are also conscious of the fact that the accessibility of SIM cards has encouraged unscrupulous actors to take advantage and use this in the commission of criminal acts," he added.
Currently, only SIM cards for postpaid mobile or cellular phone subscriptions need to be registered. To stop criminal activity supported by cell phones, the bill aims to mandate SIM card ownership registration.