Singapore may have a national ‘do-not-call’ registry from next year, as part of the country’s move to structure data privacy laws.
The country’s Ministry for Information, Communication and the Arts is currently seeking
public opinion regarding setting the parameters for such a registry. According to a consultation document, the proposed
registry will be run by a new independent body.
With a national ‘do-not-call’ registry in place, consumers can opt-out of receiving telemarketing calls, text messages and fax messages wil by registering their phone numbers. All organizations will also be required to check the registry to ensure registered numbers do not get sent advertising material unless specific consent had been given by the individual to receive promotional messages from a particular organization.
The proposed national ‘do-not-call’ registry forms part of the Ministry’s efforts to enact a consumer protection framework which firms need to adhere to. The Ministry is also seeking public feedback as to whether the responsibility of establishing consent needs to be borne by individuals or organizations.
Fines of up to S$1 million ($808.34 million) may be imposed should organizations fail to comply with the proposed data privacy laws.
Singapore currently has no data privacy laws, unlike the United States and all countries in the European Union. The island-state's computer misuse act has often been used to prosecute cases of stolen confidential data, but little has been done on a national basis to safeguard consumers’ privacy where advertising material is concerned. Instead, consumers often have to call up a particular organization to request to be taken off a marketing list, sometimes with no result.
Several of Singapore's neighbors in the Asia Pacific already have data protection laws for consumers in place, including Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Indonesia had earlier this year allowed
consumers to get their numbers barred from senders of unsolicited messages. Indonesia consumers could lodge complaints with both the country’s regulatory body and their telco to ensure marketing material did not reach them;
while Singapore's close neighbor Malaysia put its personal data protection act into effect last year.
India had also in 2007 set up
a national 'do-not-call' registry,