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Singapore

Firms can text, fax ads to consenting customers

The Straits Times | Irene Tham | Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014

In Singapore, vendors are given one crack at texting or faxing customers - including those listed on the Do-Not-Call (DNC) Registry - with relevant promotional materials.

If the customer says no - by unsubscribing via the same channel the message is received - vendors have to stop the marketing.

This major concession was introduced a few days before the DNC Registry kicked off on Jan 2.

Some had criticised the exemption, saying it was back-pedalling on the Registry. But the Personal Data Protection Commission, which administers the Registry, defended its move, saying the exemption has a narrow scope and does not apply to voice calls.

Actually, Singapore's DNC Registry is not the only system in the world with exemptions. It is in line with practices in countries like Britain, the United States and Australia. In Britain, SMS marketing is treated the same way as e-mail marketing.

While the blanket rule states that consent from consumers is required before organisations can market to them, there is a "soft opt-in" exception to the rule.

This exception lets organisations send marketing materials as long as the information is related to what customers had bought.

But recipients must be given a simple means of refusing the use of their contact details for such marketing purposes. And it should be free except for the cost of transmission.

The US National DNC Registry, which covers only voice calls, also contains an exemption for businesses that have an existing relationship with customers.

This article was published on April 21 in The Straits Times.

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