Due to pervasive text messages containing  job offers and promising PHP500 to PHP8,000 a day, Sen. Joel Villanueva filed a bill to protect consumers. 

Villanueva’s bill also provides mobile phone subscribers an “opt-in” mechanism on push messages on SMS or calls as a response to the pervasive text messages circulating in public offering purported high-paying jobs and other products.

As this developed, Sen. Grace Poe said concerned government agencies, should waste no time to arrest the text scammers and stop their illegal activities. 

“We are hoping that telcos and businesses should boost the safety and protection of their consumers,further added the Senate chairperson on  Public Services.

Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Labor committee, explained that Senate Bill No. 2460 seeks to address the so-called epidemic of “smishing” which lures unwitting consumers and jobseekers into giving away personal information using links and other related means.

“This scheme will undoubtedly mislead some recipients, thereby necessitating the need for the government to take affirmative action to address these types of spam messages,” Villanueva wrote in the explanatory note of the bill.

Under the bill, subscribers are opted out from push messages as default, and their prior and explicit consent to receive commercial or promotional advertisements will be required, the lawmaker pointed out.

The measure also defines spam messages as either one of the following: 

1. Not initiated by the recipient of the call or message containing commercial promotions or advertisements and did not opt-in to receive the same;

2. Causes an installation of programs on the subscriber’s device without consent;

3. Contains false or misleading electronic representations redirecting to websites, chat platforms, etc. and

4. Triggers the collection of personal information by accessing an electronic device illegally.

“Under its prohibited acts, there shall be a prima facie presumption of a violation of this Act if the subscriber opted out of receiving any calls or text messages, or when the subscriber has declined to further give consent to the continuation of the call or text, or when the unsolicited call or text falls under provisions of the measure,” the bill stated, with the last referring to categories that pertain to suspicious and deceptive calls or texts.

The measure also mandated the continuous monitoring and oversight of concerned government agencies, such as the National Telecommunications Commission, National Privacy Commission, and National Bureau of Investigation “to further improve and develop the technical and industry efforts to protect the data privacy of citizens.”

“This bill will redound to the benefit of millions of subscribers who will have the freedom to choose with whom they shall transact, and will reduce, if not eliminate, the proliferation of potentially risky and harmful unsolicited calls or messages,” Villanueva said.

Other versions of the text message include names of e-commerce websites claiming to be hiring employees.

Villanueva reiterated his warning to the public from such misleading messages, and asked authorities to heighten its vigilance against those sending spam messages.