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Smart won't block text messages with clickable links

Smart Communications Inc. announced its decision to forego blocking clickable links in text messages or SMS.
Smart won't block text messages with clickable links
File photo: Logo of Smart Communications

Focusing the fight on fraudsters instead of customers

To recall, its rival Globe Telecom began blocking text messages that contain website links to intensify efforts against text scams.

According to Smart, it has previously looked into blocking clickable website links or Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) in all SMS passing through its network as a way of curbing the rise of smishing. First VP and chief information security officer of PLDT and Smart Angel Redoble added,

Upon closer study, however, we decided to forego this approach. Notably, neither the National Telecommunications Commission nor the National Privacy Commission has ordered the ban on clickable links in SMS.

Redoble said that they decided against the move because 99 percent of text messages – also known as SMS–passing through them are legitimate.

Moreover, the telco giant allegedly established effective controls to prevent the proliferation of text scams. For example, PLDT and Smart have blacklisted all forms of shorteners for uniform resource locators (URLs). These are typically used by fraudsters to lead to malicious links.

In addition, Redoble pointed out that Smart suspends mobile numbers linked to text scams. Meanwhile, PLDT chief data privacy officer Leah Jimenez stated the fight against text scams should focus on the perpetrators, not on the customers. She explained,

We believe that smishing is best fought with nuance, by wielding a scalpel and not an axe. We are taking a multi-pronged approach on targeted smishing.

Jimenez added that SMS messaging remains to be one of the cheapest modes of communication, adding that a blanket prohibition on website links may step on the right of customers to connect with their network of contacts.

The chief data privacy officer claimed that PLDT and Smart will remain their strong stance against fraudulent activities that try to scam its subscribers into giving up their sensitive information. However, she said the telco provider also respects the right to privacy and freedom to communicate with its users.

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