Thursday, February 29, 2024

Senate bills filed expanding gov’t regulatory powers to fight digital crimes

Two Senate committees held a virtual hearing on Monday, Jan. 17, to tackle measures seeking to protect financial consumers from digital crimes.

Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri

Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri, author of Senate Bill No. 534 or the Financial Consumer Protection Act, said there is a need to provide protection to financial consumers as the technologically-driven globalized age has drastically altered the methods of consumption.

“To this end, the bill seeks to invest in rule-making, surveillance and inspection, market monitoring, and enforcement powers to the nation’s financial regulators, namely the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Insurance Commission,” Zubiri said.

Sen. Grace Poe, who presided over the virtual hearing, highlighted the risks and challenges that financial consumers face such as small-scale fraud, investment scams, and financial hacking, among others.

Citing data from credit reporting company TransUnion dated March 2021, Poe said 44 percent of Filipinos have been targeted by digital fraud while fraud attempts against businesses have risen by 31 percent.

“The increase in financial inclusion resulted in the marked increase in incidence of financial fraud and scams… thus the need for the law that lists all rights of financial consumers – these are your ordinary depositors, consumers, policy holders – to protect their interests. This law shall also ensure that our financial service providers are operating optimally and the regulators to oversee the system with utmost efficiency,” Poe said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said it’s high time that the country put a stronger financial protection for financial consumers with the accelerated use of financial services and the use of electronic payments.

“We see that hackers and fraudsters have become more sophisticated and emboldened. It’s time we put this in place so that our promotion of financial digital payments would be more robust and consumer confidence will increase thereafter,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian lost P1 million to hackers when they hacked his credit card last year. The National Bureau of Investigation was able to apprehend the perpetrators, however.

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