Chairman says the intent is providing more options for consumers
[SINGAPORE] The Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) yesterday defended its move to allow businesses to continue sending text or fax messages to their existing customers on related products and services, saying that this was not a U-turn from the original intent behind the Do Not Call (DNC) Registry.
It said the exemption order did not amount to backpedalling as a result of business pressure; rather, it was an attempt to meet the varied needs of the public.
PDPC chairman Leong Keng Thai, speaking at a press conference, said: "This is not a caving-in to businesses, but providing more options for consumers. Without the exemption order, it's an all-or-nothing approach."
Mr Leong, addressing the storm of criticism about "back pedalling" from consumers and also the consumer body Case, said that without the exemption order, businesses would have "too many lists" to check. "The exemption order is least disruptive to consumers and businesses," he said.
With the DNC Registry and the exemption becoming effective this Thursday, consumers who register their phone number signal that they do not want unsolicited calls, messages or faxes from telemarketers. Businesses must check with the registry - on pain of penalties for failing to do so - to ensure that they do not disturb consumers on the list.
The exemption introduced last week allows businesses with "ongoing relationships" with these consumers - say, as providers of credit cards, insurance or home loans - to send out text and fax messages on their products and services, even to individuals listed on the DNC Registry.
The exemption, however, does not apply to voice calls.
The PDPC said the exemption order was crafted from feedback from consumers, businesses and trade groups during the weekly roadshows and workshops held since September. It stressed that the exemption order was not aimed at opening a back door for indiscriminate marketing, as some upset consumers have charged.
The PDPC added that it was not in organisations' interest to take advantage of the exemption, and that it would not hesitate to "take enforcement action" against those who do so.
The PDPC stressed that companies must have an ongoing relationship with the individual, and that past relationships or encounters from one-off transactions are excluded.
The message sent out must also relate only to the service the company provides. For example, a credit card company cannot rely on this exemption to notify its customer of a launch of its property development, said the PDPC.
Another condition tied to the exemption is that businesses must provide an opt-out facility in their marketing message at no extra charge to the recipient.
As at yesterday, the DNC Registry had amassed 380,000 phone numbers.
Source from Business times