Singapore Spam Control Act

An unsolicited commercial message sent in bulk - that's what spam is.

Such messages could be sent via mobile telephony systems or electronic mail (e-mail). Spam typically advertises or promotes goods or services, which may also include land, business opportunity or investment opportunities. It is a growing concern for Internet users and now accounts for as much as 73 per cent of e-mails worldwide, according to Message Labs, an e-mail security and management company. Although spam transcends national boundaries, Singapore, as an Infocomm Technology hub, has in place measures to keep it in check. Public education and technical countermeasures act as the first line of defence. Legislation, expected to be introduced later in 2007, serves as the overarching framework for spam control here.

A group of strategic partners, led by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, have come together to offer this resource site to equip the public with the necessary knowledge and tools to control spam. The partners are: the three major local Internet Service Providers (Pacific Internet, Singnet, Starhub), the Singapore IT Federation (SiTF), the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), and the Direct Marketing Association of Singapore (DMAS). Each of these organisations also runs their own spam control programmes that addresses issues specific to their audiences.

Spam control is challenging for a few key reasons. Its global nature means local measures will not be sufficient. It is challenging because spammers will keep finding ways to outsmart technological means to control it. Also, it is impossible to classify every spam as such, since some recipients welcome them as a means of keeping tabs on offers and promotions in the market.

Key Pointers

Requirements for Compliance with Spam Control Regime

Singapore's Spam Control regime provides a framework in which spammers - be it through e-mails or the mobile phone - must follow. Some of these guidelines include the use of labels to mark a message as spam, and to offer an unsubscribe option. Non-compliance with these requirements could result in civil penalties for the spammer. The use of dictionary attacks or address harvesting software to spam is strictly prohibited under the regime. Persons who authorise the sending of this non-compliant spam will also be subject to the same civil penalties.

Labelling and Other Requirements

Responsible marketing includes the simple courtesy of correctly informing the recipients about the content of the message. So, each spam should include
Correct and not misleading title in the subject field of the message, if the message has a subject field.
Before the title of the message, or in the case where there is no subject field, before the actual content of the message.
Correct and non-misleading header information where applicable.
An accurate and functional e-mail address or telephone number by which the spammer could readily be contacted.

Unsubscribe Facility

To comply with the regime, each spam must have:
Contact information - That can be in the form of an e-mail address, an Internet location address, a telephone number, a facsimile number or a postal address that a recipient can use to submit an unsubscribe request. It is strongly suggested that this contact takes the same form as the spam message itself - an e-mail spam should offer an unsubscribe facility through e-mail, while a mobile SMS spam should offer a reply via the recipient's mobile phone.
Clear statement - This will state explicitly for the recipient that he or she could use the above contact to submit an unsubscribe request. This statement should be in English. But if the statement is presented in two or more languages, the English language shall be one of the languages. The above contact should be a valid contact for at least 30 days, that could receive unsubscribe requests from recipients of spam. The use of this contact should not cost the sender of unsubscribe request more than the usual cost of using such a contact. Once an unsubscribe request is submitted, the spammer should remove the recipient's electronic mail address or mobile phone number from the mailing list within 10 business days. Anyone who receives the unsubscribe request should not disclose the information to others, except with permission from the sender of the unsubscribe request.

Civil Recourse against Non-compliant Spammers

If you have suffered loss or damages as a result of the transmission of non-compliant spam, you could also seek legal recourse against the spammer. This takes the form of a civil action against the spammer in court. You could also seek civil action for those who authorise the sending of non-compliant spam. 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. If you wish to claim damages beyond S$1million, you could opt for grant of actual damages instead. In addition, the court can order the spammer to pay for the costs and expenses of the legal proceedings.