Public advised to be careful of joining group chats amid data privacy concerns

October 12, 2022 - 1:34 PM

After the passage of the Sim Card Registration Act, the University of the Philippines library reminded the public to be careful of joining instant messaging group as all members will get to access each other’s phone numbers.

Among the apps that require the disclosure of contact information are TelegramFacebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Signal

The university library also shared other tips to ensure the safe use of messaging apps based on the guidelines of the National Privacy Commission. These include the following:

  • Parents should review the settings of their children’s messaging apps and tweak them according to this guide.
  • Review the permissions of messaging apps. Grant the minimum permissions needed to use the append and revoke permissions not in use.  
  • Be vigilant when conversing with strangers. Verify their identities first before providing any information about yourself.
  • Do not tap links and files in messaging apps if you are not expecting them, especially if they come from a stranger. You can be phished, or malware can infect your device.

Text scams in the country

The spam messages among network subscribers has dramatically increased in the past months. Some reported receiving personalized SMS scams with their names and preferred gender pronouns.

Based on the initial findings of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center, Filipinos lost millions of dollars due to these text scams. 

RELATED: Pinoys lost millions of dollars to text scams – government

Given this concern, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday signed the Sim Card Registration Act into law. 

The law seeks to provide “accountability in the use of SIM cards and aid law enforcers to track perpetrators of crimes committed through phones,” said Office of the Press Secretary officer-in-charge Cheloy Garafil

The passage of the Sim Card Registration Act, however, renewed data privacy concerns.

RELATED: ‘Text scams, security concerns’: Public weighs SIM Card Registration Act anew

Meanwhile, prior to the passage of Sim Card Registration Act, telecommunication services and other stakeholders have also employed ways to address text scams. 

Globe Telecom Inc. started blocking text messages with clickable links as part of a campaign to curb SMS scams. 

Smart Communications, meanwhile, said that it will not be blocking messages with hyperlinked texts in all SMS.

Instead, it employed a different strategy against spammers targeting its subscribers.

“SMS sent via our SMS broadcast service can no longer contain URL shorteners that have been shown to be used by SMS spammers,” Angel Redoble, FVP and Chief Information Security Officer of PLDT and Smart, said in a statement.

Mobile wallet app GCash, on the other hand, updated the name display feature following reports of users who received suspicious text scams that contained their full names.

READ: Mobile wallet app starts hiding some letters in recipient names amid text scam surge