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    Dec 27, 2013

    Don't call, but OK to send customers messages

    STILL confused over the guidelines surrounding the Do Not Call (DNC) Registry, which will come into force on Jan 2?

    Well, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), which aims to safeguard individuals' personal data against misuse, yesterday unveiled a set of advisory guidelines to help shed more light on the requirements.

    A new exemption order will also kick in on Jan 2, to let organisations send text or fax messages on related products and services to customers and members with whom they have an ongoing relationship, without the need to check the DNC Registry.

    A bank or credit-card company, for example, would be able to send its existing credit-card holders telemarketing messages about related services, such as a rewards programme for credit-card holders.

    As the exemption order does not apply to voice calls, organisations are still required to check against the DNC Registry before making telemarketing calls to promote related products and services.

    These guidelines would complement those that were issued in September on key concepts and selected topics on the Personal Data Protection Act.

    "The advisory guidelines will help organisations in understanding and complying with the requirements of the provisions relating to the DNC Registry, when the provisions come into force on 2 January 2014," said Mr Leong Keng Thai, chairman of the PDPC.

    The PDPC said it recognises that consumers may wish to continue receiving such information in a minimally intrusive manner, via text or fax messages. It has also received feedback from organisations on their customers' expectation for such messages to be sent.

    Without this exemption, individuals may miss such messages if they are registered with the DNC Registry, and if the organisation, which they have an ongoing relationship with, did not obtain clear consent to send telemarketing messages to their phone numbers.

    To rely on the exemption, organisations are required to provide information in their messages on how consumers can opt out of such messages, and allow consumers to opt out using the same medium by which the message is received.

    Upon receiving an individual's opt-out request, organisations must stop sending such messages to that individual within a specified timeframe.

    "The exemption order provides greater flexibility for organisations to serve their customers in a minimally intrusive manner, and the DNC Registry advisory guidelines aim to help them along with respect to telemarketing," said Mr Leong.

    Full details of the DNC Registry advisory guidelines, including information about the exemption order, can be found on