From 2 December 2013, consumers who no longer wish to receive telemarketing messages including marketing phone calls, mobile text messages, and faxes from organisations can register their Singapore telephone numbers with the Do Not Call (DNC) Registry.
From 2 January 2014, organisations wishing to send such telemarketing messages must check with the DNC Registry to ensure that the Singapore telephone numbers that they are sending messages to are not listed.
Unless clear and unambiguous consent has been obtained from a user in writing or other accessible form, organisations in Singapore that send specified messages to a Singapore telephone number that has been registered on the DNC Registry will be guilty of an offence.
Singapore's establishment of the DNC Registry follows the introduction of similar registers in Australia, the United States, and United Kingdom, amongst others. In those jurisdictions, the applicable do not call lists have received a mixed reception. The impact of the DNC Registry on businesses in Singapore will be followed closely, particularly by those in the telemarketing industry.
The DNC Registry is established by Singapore's first omnibus legislation covering privacy of personal data, the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). The PDPA includes rules governing the collection, use, disclosure, and care of personal data. It recognises the rights of individuals to protect personal data, including rights of access and correction of information, and also the needs of organisations to collect, use and disclose personal data for legitimate and reasonable purposes.
Singapore's introduction of the PDPA and DNC reflects a general trend in the Asia-Pacific by legislators in focussing on the rules relating to the use of personal information. The rapidly changing data privacy landscape, including regulatory requirements, sector specific guidance and regulators with new and increased powers of enforcement, means a greater compliance burden for businesses. Companies with a presence in the region, particularly those with cross-border operations, should consider what processes and methodologies they need to put in place to strategically deal with the new compliance challenges created by legislation such as the PDPA.
More information for consumers and organisations on the DNC, including compliance obligations, can be found here.