The National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Tuesday asked several websites linked to online gambling and cryptocurrency to explain their possible involvement in the spread of targeted text scams in the country.

In Oscar Oida’s report on “24 Oras”, the NPC said an initial investigation showed that some links and uniform resource locators (URLs) included in the personalized spam messages direct users to the gambling and cryptocurrency sites.

The commission did not identify the websites.

“Bakit sa kanila napo-point ‘yung mga URLs nito? So kailangan nila i-explain bakit. Anong connection nila sa mga text scams?” NPC Public Info and assistance Chief Roren Marie Chin said.

(They need to explain why these URLs direct users to them. What’s their connection to the text scams?)

“Hindi po natin alam kung saan pa nila paggamitan ang mga personal na information na kanilang nakalap. Pwede pong gumawa sila ng another account in your name at siraan kayo. Pwede rin na gamitin ito para mag-create ng account o yung mga makakuha ng pera doon sa mga bank account ninyo o payment apps ninyo,” she added.

(We don’t know where they will use the personal information they gathered. They may use it to create another account under the subscriber’s name. They may also use it to create another account to steal money from the victims’ bank accounts and payment apps.)

The NPC coordinated with telecommunication companies and other government agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine National Police, and the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center for “intelligence sharing” to resolve the problem of scam messages.

If proven to have a role in the proliferation of text scams, the websites may face raps for violating Section 25 of the Data Privacy Act or Unauthorized Processing. They may be fined up to P2 million and face jail time of up to three years.

Perpetrators may also be charged with administrative charges and may be fined up to P5 million, the report said.

Earlier, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered telcos to deactivate the URLs, links, and quick response (QR) codes in text messages included in the personalized text scams. They were likewise instructed to expedite the blocking of the involved SIM cards through an issued memorandum. — Sundy Locus/DVM, GMA News

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