B2B marketing calls excluded from Do Not Call rules

B2B marketing calls excluded from Do Not Call rules

SINGAPORE - Telemarketers will find more breathing room now that the proposal for the national Do Not Call (DNC) registry excludes business-to-business (B2B) marketing calls.

The DNC registry, which is expected to be set up by early 2014, allows individuals to register their phone number in order to opt out of receiving marketing messages by phone call, SMS or fax.

Organisations will be prohibited from sending a marketing message to a number on the registry without clear and unambiguous consent from that individual.

This, however, will not apply to B2B marketing messages, in addition to other messages that promote charitable, religious or political causes, or those that promote non-commercial public agency programmes.

"I believe the right decision was made," Lisa Watson, chairman of the Direct Marketing Association of Singapore, told BT.

Before B2B marketing messages were included as exceptions, people attempting casual business networking would have run the risk of perpetuating an "inadvertent abuse" of the law, Ms Watson said.

The pending Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) has provisions that oblige organisations to check phone numbers against the DNC registry with 30 days - or 60 days in the first six months - and filter out registered numbers before sending out marketing messages. Organisations will be charged a fee to access the DNC registry.

"An organisation will not be in breach of the rules if it sends marketing messages to individuals who register their numbers within the interval period after the organisation has checked with the DNC registry," said Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim in Parliament yesterday.

Callers must also display their contact information or - in the case of phone calls - originating number for phone calls. A failure to do any of these things could lead to a fine of up to $10,000 per offence, or a fine of $1,000 if it is compounded.

After the Act is passed, there will be a transition period of 12 months before the provisions for the DNC registry kick in. Any consent that a consumer gave to an organisation to be sent certain messages pre-DNC registry will continue to stand after he or she signs up with the registry.

Some marketing firms view the DNC registry as a welcome development. "Our marketing data management processes promote customer marketing based on invitation rather than intrusion - and that is essentially what the new PDPA and DNC registry aim to do," said Bryan Tan, chief operating officer of Go React.

"The only adjustment we will need to make when managing our clients' marketing data is to make sure that all customers who ask to be placed on the DNC registry are reflected in the clients' marketing database."

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