‘Digital, online protection is basic human right’ — CHR

Published November 25, 2021, 4:12 PM

by Jel Santos


Stressing that “online and digital protection is a basic human right,” the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) lauded the National Privacy Commission (NPC) for its swift action against the rampant spam text messages of syndicates seeking to fraudulently obtain sensitive personal information from the people.

The NPC has secured the commitment and cooperation of banks, telecommunication companies, and e-commerce platforms to fight current and future smishing or the fraudulent practice of sending text messages purporting to be from reputable companies in order to get personal details of individuals, such as passwords or credit card numbers.

Just recently, many Filipinos have posted on social media screenshots of spam text messages that they received from unknown numbers. The NPC has warned the public from clicking the links in the text messages sent to them as these could lead to serious data breach, and such information may be used for fraudulent activities.

In a statement, CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said that it is vital for the government and the private sector to work hand in hand to protect the public against scammers.

“It is crucial for the government and private sector to work together to protect the privacy and data of individuals amidst the surge of spam text messages that are flooding many people’s SMS or Short Message Service inbox,” she said.

“In these digital times, the online and digital protection of all is basic human right,” De Guia stressed.

CHR has echoed the warning of the NPC as it stressed that by clicking the links of the text messages from unknown numbers, your sensitive information can be quickly obtained.

“Most of the current spam messages offer jobs and other rewards, usually financial in nature, that can easily mislead people. Considering the dire economic conditions and the high unemployment rate during this pandemic, many Filipinos are vulnerable to this type of scheme,” De Guia lamented.

She said the CHR noted that the low digital literacy in our country makes Filipinos vulnerable to global syndicates.

At the same time, De Guia said the CHR has commended the NTC for ordering telecommunication companies to send warning messages to its subscribers about the spam text messages.

“We also note the action of Globe Telecom, Inc. to deactivate thousands of confirmed spam numbers and block millions of messages this year,” she added.

She expressed CHR’s hope that proactive and preventive efforts will be undertaken to ensure that smishing and other forms of scam will be detected and curbed before it proliferates and that Filipinos are given sufficient information and education on data protection so they can protect themselves from unscrupulous schemes.