Viber was trending late on Tuesday as Twitter users swapped screenshots of spam messages that was included their user names on the popular messaging app, as regulators and telcos moved against unsolicited SMS broadcasts.
Claiming 25 million users and 80% penetration, Viber is among the most widely used chat platform in the Philippines. Earlier this week, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he would call for an investigation on the proliferation of spam texts.
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After some mobile subscribers received messages addressed to their GCash usernames, the country's top mobile wallet said it would move to stop spamming by limiting select notifications to the app, instead of a separate SMS alert.
What can you do?
Viber's privacy settings are pretty straightforward. You can block non-contacts from seeing your profile photo or adding you to groups.
"These personalized messages have become obviously targeted and now are really zeroing on specific individuals. So, this is very alarming," former privacy commissioner Raymund Liboro told ANC's "Rundown" Monday.
Liboro called on telcos to exercise "more diligence" on data brokers, who could have access to consumer information.
"Our problem right now is that we don't know where these messages are coming from. They reach your phones. They reach your inbox anonymously and you have no way of exercising your rights. You don't even know whom to call or whom to message if you want to opt out. So, this have to be addressed," he said.
Globe on Tuesday called for a "united front" among businesses and government to fight spammers and scammers.
“At a time of aggressive cybercriminal activity amid growing digitalization, Globe asserts that the public, government and industry players, including telcos, are all victims of these illegal acts. It is, thus, a shared fight among all of us to beat our common enemy, which is cybercrime,” said Anton Bonifacio, Globe Chief Information Security Officer.
Globe said it had spent roughly $20 (P1.1 billion) to fight spam, on top of maintaining a 24/7 security operations center. It said it had blocked 784 million scam and spam messages from January to July this year, deactivated 14,058 scam-linked SIMs and blacklisted 8,973 others. Globe also blocked 610 domains or URLs.