The National Privacy Commission said on Saturday it is facing difficulties in going after text scammers as these are now utilizing “text aggregators.”
The NPC said messages are sent through an aggregator’s clients, such as online applications.
Aggregators can have access to a list of telecommunication companies where they can send these messages.
NPC Deputy Commissioner Leandro Angelo Aguirre said this is the reason the NPC mounted another probe into these text messages.
“Aggregators have a list of telcos that they can use for sending SMS. If you are a company, you can use the aggregator’s platform and they will push the messages to the telcos,” Aguirre said.
The official said this “application to phone” messaging, instead of “phone-to-phone messaging,” is difficult to “solve.”
He said an aggregator can use mobile applications such as Agoda or Booking.com to push the said texts through the telcos.
Aguirre text…said identifying aggregators can be easier compared to the previous sources of spam such as SIM cards, which supposedly have sender IDs.
Messages sent to aggregators could be located and authorities could also find out their clients, the official said, but added the problem has become global.
Another possible source of scams is that the aggregators’ official accounts or platforms might have been hacked or compromised, Aguirre said.
“What can happen is that a message with a sender ID identifies XYZ company. This does not automatically mean that the message from XYZ company is fake. There is a possibility that the official account of XYZ company has been compromised,” he said.
The official said the NPC can then check the source or the aggregator which sent the message.
“If the client account has been compromised, we will ask them why this was not reported. This is a breach,” he said.
Earlier, the National Telecommunications Commission and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas have ordered the blocking of URLs that lead to malicious sites as well as the inclusion of links in text messages.
Lawmakers also ratified the SIM Registration bill after ironing out some provisions.
Speaker Martin Romualdez said the measure may gain the distinction as the first law to be signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
He expressed confidence it will not suffer the same fate as the SIM Card Registration Act that then President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed in April this year over a provision on social media that may give rise to intrusions and violations of constitutionally protected rights.
“This bill no longer contains the controversial provision that orders the mandatory registration of social media accounts,” Romualdez said.
Under the bill, all SIM sold are in a deactivated state, and end-users are required to register their SIMs with the concerned Public Telecommunication Entity (PTE) as a prerequisite to activation.
All existing SIM subscribers are required to register with their respective PTEs within 180 days from the effectivity of the law.
However, the DICT is allowed to extend the registration for a period not exceeding 120 days.
Failure to register the SIM within the prescribed period will result in automatic deactivation and may only be reactivated after it is registered in compliance with the requirements of the law.
Under the measure, a SIM owner is required to submit a duly accomplished control-numbered registration form containing his full name, date of birth, sex, and address for registration.
The registration process also requires the input of the assigned number of the SIM with its serial number.
The form shall be accomplished electronically through a platform or website of the concerned PTE and should include a declaration of the end-user that the identification documents he presented are true and correct and that he is the same person who accomplished the registration form.
To verify the identity of the end-user, he is required to present valid government-issued identification cards of similar documents with his photograph.
Among the valid documents that may be presented for purposes of SIM registration include the following: passport, Philippine Identification, Social Security Service ID, Government Service Insurance System e-Card, driver’s license, National Bureau of Investigation clearance, police clearance, Firearms’ License to Own and Possess ID, Professional Regulation Commission ID, Integrated Bar of the Philippines ID, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration ID, Bureau of Internal Revenue ID, voter’s ID, senior citizen’s card, Unified Multi-purpose Identification Card, Person with Disabilities card, or other government-issued ID with photo.
In the case of corporations, they are required to present their certificate of registration as well as the duly-adopted resolution designating their duly-authorized representative, and special power of attorney for the registration of SIM of other juridical entities.
A SIM may be registered for the use of a minor but it shall be under the name of his parent or guardian who gave their consent and registered the same.
End-users who are foreign nationals are required to register their name, nationality, passport number, and address in the Philippines.
In the case of tourists, they are also required to present their passport, proof of address in the Philippines, and return ticket to their own country or any other ticket showing the date and time of their departure from the Philippines.
Their registered SIM will only be valid for 30 days and shall be automatically deactivated upon expiration of validity.