Happy New Year! It’s the second day of 2014, and among many other things that will start today, one big thing that we can all look forward to is that our phones should ring less. Today, Singapore’s Do Not Call (DNC) regime comes into full force. From today, companies are not allowed to make unsolicited telemarketing calls, send text, or fax messages to numbers in the DNC Registry.
If you have not done so, you should visit the DNC Registry website to find out more and to register your number. Many people aren’t really bothered with SMS text messages, and individual consumers don’t have fax machines (and are unlikely to somehow mistakenly receive a fax call on their phones). The main gripe from most individuals are with unsolicited voice calls.
Truth be told, these days the telemarketers are far less aggressive. If you just say it clearly “not interested”, most will just back off. What we all really hate are those telemarketers who just won’t give up, and won’t take “no” for an answer.
The DNC is part of the larger scheme of things, the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). PDPA will come into full force in mid 2014, and will give us individuals the legal framework to take control of our privacy. The PDPA does place significant burden on organisations that want to keep personal data, to the extent that from henceforth, it is actually better for organisations to not obtain and/or keep personal data unless they truly need them.
Just a week ago, the government announced a small reversal in the DNC rules. The new change allows companies, who have an ongoing relationship with a customer, to send SMS text messages and fax messages, of a nature related to that relationship, to that individual. This is despite the individual’s registration in the DNC registry. So now the burden is transferred back to the individuals to specifically tell those organisations that they really, really, do not want those messages.
In practice, there are many more other loopholes in the DNC rules. I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t quote me on this, but the PDPC website says the DNC Registry is intended to focus on telemarketing calls or messages of a commercial nature. They cite the following examples as not covered by the DNC provisions:
- Pure market survey or research,
- Promoting charitable or religious causes,
- Public messages sent by government agencies,
- Political messages.
I don’t know about you, but I quite clearly also don’t want to receive any of those types of calls. Particularly those of market survey and research nature. Why should these be excluded from the DNC provisions?
I can also see so many possibilities of annoying calls that are not “telemarketing calls or messages of a commercial nature”. I’m sure some companies will find new creative ways to get around these DNC rules.
There are some things that may be useful to know. First, telemarketers are now disallowed to call from a phone whose number display is blocked. This means that you should never receive any telemarketing calls from blocked numbers anymore. Since every telemarketing call now can easily be identified by the calling number, it makes it easy to report abuses or violations of DNC rules. Check out the PDPC’s DNC complaint page.
Let’s hope 2014 will bring a year with fewer, none at all, unsolicited telemarketing calls and messages!