As part of the first phase of the implementation of Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act 2012, Singapore’s Do Not Call Registry (“DNC Registry”) opened for registrations last week. As a result Singapore consumers who do not wish to receive telemarketing messages are now able to register their telephone numbers with the DNC Registry.
Under Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act 2012, from 2 January 2014 organisations will have to check the DNC Register before contacting consumers with Singapore telephone numbers, unless they have “clear and unambiguous consent” from the consumer to the communication.
The DNC Registry is now also open to organisations who will need to create an account and acquire credits in order to access the DNC Registry. There is a S$30 one-time fee to create each account (S$60 for overseas organisations) and once an account has been created the DNC Registry will allow organisations to check 500 telephone numbers a year for free. Thereafter, organisations will require one credit for each telephone number checked.
Credits vary in price depending on how many are purchased, ranging from S$100 for 5,000 credits to S$10,000 for 1,000,000 credits under the pre-paid scheme. There is also a pay-per-use scheme which costs S$0.025 for each of the first 4,999 telephone numbers checked and S$0.023 thereafter.
Whilst consumers and organisations can register with the DNC Registry, organisations cannot check the registry until it goes fully live and the do not call obligations come into force on 2 January 2014. Furthermore, consumers who register may not stop receiving telemarketing messages until 60 days following such registration. This period has been allowed in order to provide organisations with time to familiarize themselves with the DNC Registry. This period is reduced to 30 days for consumers who register after 2 July 2014, when the remainder of the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 comes into force.
The obligation to check the DNC Registry will have an administrative and economic impact for any industries involved in telemarketing, including financial institutions (such as banks and insurance companies), real estate agents and recruitment consultants. Small businesses and sole traders will be especially hard hit.
The creation of a specific registry to provide further protection from unsolicited telemarketing calls and text messages brings Singapore in line with other jurisdictions that have implemented similar systems. In Asia, Australia and Hong Kong have similar “do not call registries” run by government authorities, namely the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Communications Authority in Hong Kong respectively. In New Zealand the Marketing Association maintains a ‘do not call’ list but marketing companies are not obliged to check it. It is a voluntary system. India has a slightly different system which includes both a National Do Not Call Register and also an obligation on telecommunication providers to have their own ‘do not call’ registers. Further afield, the UK operates a “Telephone Preference Service” and the USA and Canada have their own “do not call registry” systems.