Singapore's Do-Not-Call registry to start January 2014

A public consultation exercise is underway to gather feedback over operational details. Workshops and training collaborations will also be rolled out to educate firms, especially SMBs, and help them get ready.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

Singapore consumers will be able to start opting out from spam advertisement messages and telemarketing callls from the begining of next year.

The Do-Not-Call registry--a key feature of the recently enacted Personal Data Protection Act--will come into effect from January 2, 2014, said Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore's minister for Communications and Information.

The wider personal data protection requirements will come into effect on July 2, 2014. Yaacob was speaking at the official launch of the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC).

Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC)
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).

"To ensure that the DNC Registry benefits both consumers and businesses without adding unreasonable costs and inconveniences to either parties, the PDPC--Singapore's main authority in matters relating to personal data protection; and administrator and enforcer of the PDPA, will be launching a three-week long public consultation exercise on the DNC Registry today," said the minister.

Yaacob noted the public consultation aimed to seek views on the methods and requirements for number registration on the registry, as well as business operating rules and proposed charges to be levied for this service.

Operational details of DNC registry

The DNC registry contains 3 registers: No Voice Call, No Text Messages and No Fax Messages.

Individuals can choose to register their telephone numbers in any or all of these registers for free, and their applications will not expire.

The 3 proposed methods of registration and deregistration are:

1. IVRS--Call a toll-free number connected to a fully-automated Interactive Voice Response System

2. SMS--Send a text message to a designated number

3. Online--Through the DNC registry Web site

What organizations need to do

For organizations, they will have a duty to check with the DNC registry to confirm that the telephone number that they intend to use for telemarketing is not listed on it.

Under the proposed mechanics, to check the DNC registry, they will need to apply for a main login account that can allow for 20 subaccounts for larger firms. A one-time account creation fee of S$30 (US$24) will be levied on each main and sub-account.

To help small organisations that may not have a lot of telephone numbers to check, each main account will be given 350 free numbers to check annually.

Workshops, training collaborations

The PDPC will roll out workshops to help educate and build up the capabilties of firms to deal with the new changes. These will start July 2013 on a fortnightly basis for now.

There will also be training collaborations, where the PDPC will look at Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Centers to reach out to their members. It is also exploring incorporating data protection competencies into existing training frameworks, such as the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications, or the "WSQ" system.

The details on the public consultation on business operations of DNC Registry for individuals and organizations can be found on its Web site

According to Bryan Tan, partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, the official date for the registry launch would give firms more certainty in preparing for the regulations.
Tan pointed out prior to the details, he had been fielding queries from businesses which had "a growing sense of urgency". The lawyer welcomed the new assistance and training measures, as he had been getting feedback that the amount of public education and training had been insufficient.

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