Singapore's Do-Not-Call registry opens December 2 for early registration

The regulator has finalized rules for businesses, which are slightly more accomodating than initially proposed, after taking into account public feedback gathered in May.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

SINGAPORE-- Business rules for the impending Do-Not-Call (DNC) Registry have been finalized, allowing local businesses and individuals a clearer idea on how it will be run such as processes and fees.

The DNC Registry will be launched by January 2, 2014, which organizations will have to check against before sending telemarketing messages to consumers. The messages cover voice calls, text and faxes.

Escape telemarketing calls by getting on the Do-Not-Call Registry.

"With the setting up of the DNC Registry, organizations can now focus more efficiently on consumers who are interested to receive information on products and services," said Leong Keng Thai, chairman of Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC).

The PDPC finalized the rules after taking into consideration feedback from its public consultation exercise in May 2013.

Who/what does DNC Registry affect?

Under the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA), all companies must check if users have been registered with the DNC Registry for telemarketing activities. This includes individuals such as freelancers, property agents and insurance agents.

Companies who aleady have obtained clear consent from consumers for telemarketing, do not have to run the checks. For example, these may have been in the form of prior lucky draw entries.
The DNC Registry covers all forms of messages linked to a telephone number, including Internet messaging programs WhatsApp, LINE and Viber.
However, services like Apple's iMessage are excluded because they are linked to e-mail addresses instead. These are subject to the Spam Control Act.

How much will it cost businesses?

In order to check numbers, an account must be created. This costs a one-time fee of S$30 for local organizations and individuals, while foreign ones pay S$60.

Each telephone number costs one "credit" to check, which costs between S$0.01 and S$0.025, depending on payment package. Each account will be given 500 free credits every year, a move aimed at helping small and midsize businesses (SMBs) lower their compliance cost.

Price plan for credits needed to check numbers. (source: PDPC)

How long are numbers valid for after checks?

Numbers can be used for a period of 30 days after Registry checks prove they are allowed for telemarketing. Upon expiry, the numbers will have to be rechecked.

There will be a transition window for the new rules from January 2, 2014 to July 1, 2014, where the numbers will be valid for 60 days.
Each organization is entitled to one main account and as many sub-accounts as required for its own administrative purposes, instead of the limit of 20 as proposed initially. Only main accounts get the free 500 credits annually.

What are the penalities?  

Firms can be fined up to S$10,000 (US$8,181) per customer complaint, and face a maximum penalty of S$1 million (US$818,150). The DNC Registry is in line with the wider PDPA which was introduced last October.   

Early registration from December 2, 2013

Organizations can access the DNC Registry's Web site then to create their accounts and purchase credits. 
Consumers can register their numbers via three channels: online, SMS "DNC" to 78772, or toll free hotline (1800 248 0772). These will only be activated from December 2, 2013.

For consumers, a point to note is registering before the Registry launches immediately excludes you from telemarketing calls. However, if you do so after (eg. January 3), a company may have run a check the previous day (eg. January 2) and will be entitled to use your number until it expires 30 days later (60 days if during the transition window).

The PDPC will be conducting a series of briefings from October to help businesses understand the changes.

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