Another dot in the blogosphere?

Dealing with spammy texts

Posted on: March 25, 2014

I think the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) cannot be implemented fast enough.

According to the PDPA site:

Provisions relating to the DNC Registry came into effect on 2 January 2014 and the main data protection rules will come into force on 2 July 2014.

DNC is Do Not Call. It also covers Do Not Text and Do Not Fax. I wish it had Do Not Email.

Like most people in Singapore, I still get spam text messages. I did not subscribe to any of them nor did I agree to receive them, but I am always told I can unsubscribe from them.

My son has his own smartphone and he gets messages informing him of ATM withdrawals and advertisements to attend courses or to buy condominiums.

I assume that since he has a prepaid SIM card number, the previous owner of the number set up the ATM withdrawal alert. These texts are from a bank we do not have an account with and the alerts are for $1,000 withdrawals. From the frequency of the withdrawals, my guess is that the previous owner has a gambling habit.

How now, PDPA?

My son attends Primary school and is too young to attend accounting and other courses the texts tout. He is not interested in them either. Nor is he rich enough to buy a condominium.

Maybe he has money squirreled away somewhere. According to other text messages, he makes frequent $1,000 withdrawals.

But I digress.

When my son asked me why he should not reply or unsubscribe, I told him that was a sure-fire way of letting the marketers know that he existed. He would get even more text messages as a result.

When he asked me why they would send such messages to a kid, I told him that they did not know that he was a child. And in this case, I do not really hold the marketers responsible.

The mobile operators are guilty of being loose with their databases. It is not enough that they make money out of the services we pay for. They also want to profit from our information.

But I digress again.

Learning to deal with spam texts is an early 21st century competency. It is about managing your personal information.

We cannot expect most schools to teach kids this competency because most schools ban or restrict the use of smartphones, particularly among the younger kids.

When schools do make an attempt, it might be an e-learning module led by Garfield (that fat orange cat) that even young kids know has nothing to do with reality. Kids can tell if a situation is not real or the consequences not dire.

Parents can put their hope in schools or wait for the PDPA to come into effect. They can also choose to categorize this as a small issue and ignore it. Doing any of these are mistakes. These are teachable moments that are authentic and meaningful.

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