Singapore SPAM Regulations

The Spam Control Act 2007 came into effect in Singapore on 15 June 2007 to address the problem of unsolicited commercial bulk sms sent indiscriminately, otherwise known as "spam".

Under the Act, commercial enterprises based in Singapore who send spam to "uninterested parties" face potential financial penalties of $25 for each electronic message, up to a total of $1 million.

Globally, similar laws have been introduced in the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

SPAM CONTROL FAQs - What you should know about the Spam Control Act

1. What is spam?

Spam refers to unsolicited commercial messages sent via e-mail or sms to advertise products or services without the recipient's prior request or consent.

2. Why did Singapore enact the Spam Control Act?

The act arose out of a need to control email spam. Spam imposes storage, transmission and computing costs on e-mail and mobile service providers. The IDA reports that 35% of all email traffic in Singapore is spam. Time spent in sifting and deleting email spam has resulted in a loss of productivity of $23m in Singapore and $20 bn worldwide.

Left unchecked, spam will erode consumer confidence in email and mobile messaging as a medium for communication and commerce.

>3. What are the objectives of the Spam Control Act?

The Act seeks to balance the legitimate interests of businesses that want to advertise through e-mails and mobile messaging, and the interest of recipients who do not want to be swamped daily and undiscriminately by spam.

>4. What would be considered appropriate electronic marketing?

Commercial bulk SMS marketing requires businesses to target their messages, deliver useful consumer information; and to provide recipients with contact information and a genuine opportunity to have their names removed from future mailings.

>5. What must I do to ensure that my marketing email or SMS is legal?

Using email or SMS to send information about your products and services is legal as long as it complies with the Spam Control Act.

The Act sets out basic requirements for legitimate mass electronic marketing ("legal spam") -

i. Use the label <ADV> in the subject line (for email) or at the start of your message (for SMS);

ii. Provide a means for your recipient to "unsusbscribe" to future mailings

The Unsubscribe Facility must contain contact information in the form of an email address, and tel or fax number that the recipient can use to submit an unsubscribe request. It is strongly suggested that the unsubscribe facility should take the same form as the spam message - for example, email spam should allow the recipient to unsusbscribe by email and SMS spam should offer an unsubscribe number which the recipient can submit through his mobile phone.

iii. The unsubscribe facility must be open for 30 days. Once an unsubscribe request is submitted, you have 10 days to remove the unsubscriber from your mailing list.

>6. What are the penalties if I should fail to comply with the Spam Control Act?

Any one of the recipients of your email or sms spam can bring a civil action against you in court. If successful, the court could grant injunction, damages, and statutory damages. Statutory damages that could be awarded would be up to S$25 per non-compliant spam, up to a maximum of S$1million.

>7. Where can i get further information to help business like mine use commercial bulk SMS or email to advertise my products or services without breaching the Spam Control Act?

The Direct Marketing Association of Singapore has a set of rules to guide marketers on using the e-mail and SMS responsibly.