telecommunications companies

Banning all texts with URLs would ‘cripple’ customers’ ability to connect – Smart

Gelo Gonzales

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Banning all texts with URLs would ‘cripple’ customers’ ability to connect – Smart
Smart says it considered doing a similar move by Globe, but decided otherwise, citing the right of customers to have the freedom to communicate

MANILA, Philippines – Smart, in an apparent response to Globe’s move of banning all texts with website links, said Friday, September 30, that “a wholesale prohibition on the sending of links via SMS would cripple our customers’ ability to connect with their business networks and community.”

The telco said that it had also previously looked into doing a similar move as a way of curbing the rise of smishing but eventually decided to do otherwise.

“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,” said Angel Redoble, chief information security officer of PLDT and Smart.

Smart is using a selective approach, blocking texts that instead contain URL shorteners that have “been shown to be used by SMS spammers.” Smart also mentioned blocking data aggregators that have been involved in sending out smishing messages, continuing cooperation with government investigations, and awareness programs to combat the spate of smishing messages, similar to Globe.

“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,” said Leah Jimenez, chief data privacy officer of PLDT and Smart.

Jimenez added that the company “has not lost sight of the need to protect our customers’ right to privacy and the freedom to communicate.”

Globe’s chief information security officer Anton Bonifacio, in a press statement made before Smart, explained its measures: “Before implementing this measure, what we were doing was blocking access to malicious links in text messages to help protect customers. This time around, we’re blocking the actual message. If the SMS has a link of any kind, we are not going to deliver it, period. This is necessary to protect our customers.”

Globe also said it has spent $20 million or about P1.1 billion in capital expenditures to date to more effectively detect and block scam and spam messages of international and domestic sources. –

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.