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SMS pol ads need users’ consent

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 04:58 AM October 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Political advertisements are not allowed to be transmitted without the consent of telco service subscribers, said the head of the National Privacy Commission (NPC).

Speaking at the Laging Handa public briefing on Saturday, NPC chair Raymund Liboro also said that sending unsolicited SMS (short messaging system) text blasts and collecting mobile phone numbers for such purposes also violate Republic Act No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012.

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Liboro said telcos are only allowed to transmit en masse emergency messages such as those sent by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

He emphasized the importance of subscribers’ consent to these messages.

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“You should be asked first if you want to receive [such a message],” Liboro said.

‘Choice and notice’

“To all the involved telcos, especially now that it is election time, you must be reminded of your responsibility on the proper handling of the personal data of citizens because you have obligations and liabilities if you violate under the Data Privacy Act,” he added.

Asked specifically about the text blast last Wednesday which appeared to promote the presidential candidacy of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Liboro said

“This is a matter that the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) should look into and it is already doing so.”

The Marcos camp has denied having anything to do with that text blast.

Liboro said that if ever a contract with a telco provides that the subscriber might receive ads via SMS, the subscriber should also have the option to inform the telco if he does not wish to receive such ads.

Guidelines

“Your choice [not to receive SMS ads] should be obeyed. Aside from that, you should be given choice and notice—you should be given the freedom to choose what kinds of messages you want to receive,” he said.

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“The most important thing here is that if you don’t want to receive a particular type of message, the [telco] should stop sending them and should not keep sending more of such messages that you don’t want to receive,” he added.

Following the Oct. 6 text blast, the NTC has begun investigating the illegal use of text blast machines or “systems” offered by online shopping services and easily searchable on the internet.

The NPC, for its part, will come out with guidelines on data privacy for “parties and candidates” to observe in the coming election campaign.

Liboro said telcos and other information society service providers (ISSPs), such as social media networks and search engines, are required to have data protection officers whom subscribers may contact regarding data privacy concerns.

According to him, the NPC recently took down a website that had conducted a survey on the 2022 elections.

He said the website failed to respond to the NPC’s queries—such as who organized the poll and who served as a data protection officer for the website.

Liboro urged netizens to report any election-related data privacy violations. INQ]

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TAGS: 2022 elections, National Privacy Commission, political ads, SMS, text blasts
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