To reduce e-mail spam in Singapore, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has worked closely with the three major Internet Service Providers, Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE), Direct Marketing Association of Singapore (DMAS), Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) to introduce a multi-pronged approach to tackle e-mail spam.
Singapore, 25 May 2004 | For Immediate Release
Legislation Against Spam to be Put in Place
To reduce e-mail spam1 in Singapore, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has worked closely with the three major Internet Service Providers, Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE), Direct Marketing Association of Singapore (DMAS), Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) to introduce a multi-pronged approach to tackle e-mail spam. The various anti-spam measures developed aim to protect the interests of e-mail users from the impact of e-mail spam.
Spam is a complex, multi-faceted issue and there is no single solution against spam. Therefore, a multi-pronged policy approach is required to address spam related concerns from e-mail users. This includes public education (including the use of appropriate technology measures), industry self-regulation, anti-spam legislation and international cooperation. The multi-pronged approach serves as a concerted effort by the public and private sectors to address the issues and curb spam in Singapore.
The specific initiatives under each approach are:
(A) Public Education
Public education on measures that end-users can take forms a vital backbone in reducing e-mail spam in Singapore. This is because end-user measures are the first line of defence against e-mail spam, as most spam comes from overseas. According to IDA's survey on unsolicited e-mails in 20032, 42% of e-mail users in Singapore are unaware of how they can protect their e-mails against spam. Public education programmes are therefore important and the following initiatives adopted include:
(i) National Anti-Spam Website
An anti-spam website, named the "Singapore Anti-Spam Resource Centre" (http://www.spamcontrol.org.sg/), has been launched today to provide a central anti-spam repository for the public and industry. This website jointly developed by IDA, Pacific Internet, SingNet, StarHub, CASE, DMAS, SBF and SiTF will provide visitors with general information about spam and resources for combating spam for both individuals and organisations.
(ii) IDA Anti-spam Awareness Drive
As part of e-Celebrations campaign this year, IDA will include information on spam prevention through its e-lifestyle public education efforts. Public education on anti-spam measures will be incorporated into the National IT Literacy Programme and Infocomm Security Awareness Programme. In addition, public seminars and workshops will be organised and marketing collaterals will be developed to educate the public on the steps that they can take to protect themselves from spam. This includes promoting public awareness on the anti-spam technologies available to reduce e-mail spam. IDA will also work with business associations to educate the business community on the proper rules of marketing via e-mail.
(iii) SiTF Anti-spam Initiative
To increase awareness of e-mail spam prevention among the public, the SiTF launched an anti-spam promotion today to fight e-mail spam in Singapore. As part of this promotion, members of SiTF Security Chapter including Brightmail, Computer Associates, Network Associates Software, Sophos, Symantec and Ufinity are offering free trial of anti-spam software from 30-90 days to allow e-mail users to try and identify suitable software solutions that meet their needs. In addition, SiTF will also be organising an anti-spam forum in June to educate the public on the impact of spam. The forum supported by IDA will also serve to explore potential ways of tackling the spam problem in Singapore.
(iv) Public Education Efforts by CASE and SBF
CASE and SBF will also lend their support to the anti-spam initiative by educating the public and businesses on the proposed legal framework and anti-spam measures via its website, workshops and electronic newsletters.
(B) Industry Self-Regulation(i) Efforts by ISPs
The three major Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Pacific Internet (PacNet), SingNet and StarHub, under the facilitation of IDA, have come together to set up anti-spam guidelines. These guidelines serve as guiding principles to be adopted jointly by the three ISPs to help reduce e-mail spam for their subscribers.
(ii) Efforts by DMAS
The DMAS has today launched an E-mail Marketing Code of Practice for its members. It will also be setting up a Consumer Communications Preference Programme to be launched before the end of this year that will allow e-mail users to register their preference not to receive unsolicited commercial e-mail.
(C) Legislative Framework
IDA and the Attorney-General's Chambers of Singapore (AGC) are issuing a joint consultation paper which proposes a legislative framework to control e-mail spam in Singapore. The proposed legislative framework seeks to balance the legitimate interests and concerns of different groups such as e-mail users and ISPs on the one hand, and marketers on the other. Many jurisdictions such as Australia, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and South Korea have enacted legislation for the control of e-mail spam.
The consultation paper proposes an opt-out regime3 as part of the legislative framework. It proposes to give ISPs which have suffered loss or damage as a result of spam, a statutory right to commence civil proceedings against the spammer.
IDA and AGC invite comments from the public on the proposals made in the consultation paper. The consultation paper can be downloaded from the "Policy & Regulation" section, under "Consultation Papers" of the IDA web site at https://www.imda.gov.sg/. All comments should be submitted to IDA by 26 July 2004, 12:00 noon. IDA and AGC will assess and consider all comments received before finalising the proposals and commencing the legislative process.
(D) International Cooperation
Spam is a global issue and Singapore cannot fight this battle alone. To extend Singapore's anti-spam efforts to international shores, IDA participated in the US Federal Trade Commission's "Operation Secure Your Server" campaign4, to encourage organisations worldwide to close open relays and proxies in January this year. IDA is also committed to partake in international initiatives, including participation in global and regional fora such APEC, ITU, OECD and ASEAN.
Commenting on IDA's efforts to curb e-mail spam in Singapore, Mr Leong Keng Thai, Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms) of the IDA said, "he multi-pronged approach developed with support from the private and public sectors sends a strong signal that e-mail spam is an issue that requires a concerted effort by the government, industry, public and the Internet community. IDA understands that spam will continue to be a global issue and there is no immediate panacea to resolve this problem completely. However, this multi-pronged approach, together with legislation, is a step forward to curb e-mail spam. It seeks to balance the interests of legitimate businesses advertising via e-mails and interests of users who have the right to opt out of unsolicited e-mails. With a multi-pronged policy developed, IDA hopes to address the concerns of e-mail users and reduce e-mail spam in the Internet space."
Please refer to Annex A for quotes from key partners to this multi-pronged approach and fact sheets on the respective industry and consumer associations' efforts to curb e-mail spam.
JOINTLY ISSUED BY INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE, PACIFIC INTERNET, SINGNET, STARHUB, CONSUMER ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE, DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE BUSINESS FEDERATION AND SINGAPORE INFOCOMM TECHNOLOGY FEDERATION.
Notes to Editor:
1 E-mail spam is defined as unsolicited commercial e-mail messages. This excludes communications such as those between private individuals, Government to citizen communications, appeals for donations by charities and religious organisations, and messages which are of a purely factual nature.
2 This survey is conducted to understand the nature and extent of e-mail spam in Singapore. More information on the survey.
3 Opt-out regime is defined as the distribution model of sending unsolicited e-mail and allowing the recipient to request removal. An Opt-in regime on the other hand is characterised by recipients having signed up at websites, special advertisement banners or other marketing channels for promotional information about one or more categories of products or services. Those who signed up have thus "opted in". Any e-mails sent as a result would not be considered unsolicited
4 The campaign is supported by 36 other agencies from 26 countries. Through this campaign, the US FTC sent business advisories to organisations worldwide with unsecured servers, explained the problems associated and provided instructions on how to protect computer systems from misuse. Open relays and proxies are servers that allow any computer in the world to route email through servers of other organisations, thereby disguising the real origin of the e-mail.
About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) develops, promotes and regulates infocommunications in Singapore, with the aim of establishing Singapore as one of the world's premier infocomm capitals. To nurture an internationally competitive infocomm industry, IDA offers a comprehensive range of programmes and schemes for both local and international companies. For more information, visit https://www.imda.gov.sg/
About Pacific Internet Limited
Pacific Internet or PacNet (NASDAQ: PCNTF) is Asia's largest telco-independent Internet Communications Service Provider by geographic reach with operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Australia, India, Thailand and Malaysia. In 1999, the Group became the first Asian Internet company to successfully list on the NASDAQ stock exchange. PacNet delivers a full suite of integrated Internet communications services that enhance the lifestyles and work styles of its corporate and consumer customers globally. More information at www.pacnet.com
Launched in 1994, SingNet is the leading Internet Service Provider in Singapore and a wholly owned subsidiary of SingTel. SingNet caters to a wide customer base and offers a full range of Internet services with different usage plans to suit home and business users. It was the first ISP in Singapore to launch a broadband service, providing customers with surfing speeds of up to 1,500 kbps using ADSL technology. SingNet is also the first broadband ISP to introduce supplementary email accounts, filtering services and video-on-demand to its users. With SingNet Wireless Surf, customers can now gain broadband wireless access on the move using their laptop and wireless LAN cards at more than 230 SingTel Wireless Surf Zones island-wide. SingNet is also a Domain Name Registrar accredited by the Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC).
StarHub is a Singapore-based info-communications company providing a full range of information, communications and entertainment services over fixed, mobile and Internet platforms. It operates its own nation-wide broadband network that delivers multi-channel cable TV, data, voice and Internet access. StarHub will also offer Digital Cable Services in 2004. On the cellular front, StarHub also operates its own GSM/GPRS network and will have its 3G network ready by end 2004. Visit StarHub at www.starhub.com for your communication needs.
About Consumer Association of Singapore
Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) was set up in 1971 to be a dynamic and effective national body championing the cause of the consumer to achieve a caring and consumer-friendly community. We are committed to protect and enhance consumers' interests through information and education, and to promote an environment of fair and ethical trade practices.
About Direct Marketing Association of Singapore
The Direct Marketing Association of Singapore (DMAS) is a not-for-profit trade organization established in 1983 to facilitate the development of direct marketing infrastructure, promote and protect DMAS members' interests, and share information and ideas on direct marketing. Our mission is to enhance the growth and profitability of member organizations and their adherence to high ethical standards of practice.
All members must operate under the DMAS Code of Practice which was launched in 1996 with the endorsement of the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE). Effective 1 June 2004, the DMAS Code of Practice, and thus, membership requirements, will be amended to include specific guidelines for email marketing. For more information on DMAS, visit www.dmas.org.
About Singapore Business Federation
The Singapore Business Federation is the apex business chamber in Singapore. SBF aims to advance and promote business opportunities and networking within the business community both in Singapore and abroad. At the national level, SBF works closely with the government and labour organizations in a tripartite relationship to create a conducive business environment in Singapore. At the international arena, SBF represents the Singapore business community in multilateral, regional and bilateral business organizations to advance and promote their interest in trade expansion. For more information, please visit our website: www.sbf.org.sg
About Singapore infocomm Technology Federation
The Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) is Singapore's premier infocomm trade industry association. It brings together more than 600 corporate members from MNCs and local companies, which together account for over 80% of industry revenues, and assists them in business development, market intelligence, overseas trade missions, networking and alliances. For more information on SiTF, please visit www.sitf.org.sg.
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Annex A: Quotes from Key Partners
Mr Kevin Lim, Senior Vice President, Group Consumer Business & Marketing, said, "PacNet supports the initiative to maintain the value of the Internet as a core work and personal communications vehicle for everyone. The spam problem is likely to continue to persist on a global basis and is unlikely to be completely removed in the short term. We are of the opinion that this multi-pronged approach sets the foundation for a long-term concerted effort to fight spam. At PacNet, we will be focusing on helping our customers through anti-spam tools and information on combating spam."
"As a responsible ISP, SingNet is committed to offering the best Internet experience to all its customers and will continue to introduce anti-spam solutions available to help them combat spam. SingNet views this move by IDA as a step forward as it would spearhead a concerted effort among Internet industry players- ISPs, technology leaders and responsible marketers-as well as the consumers to fight spam jointly. However, given that spam is a complex and multi-faceted issue, we do not expect a quick and easy solution," said Ms. Ooi Lay Yong, Chief Executive Officer of SingNet.
"The joint co-operation between the three ISPs, industry players and the Singapore government represents a major - and unprecedented - effort by Singapore to address the spamming problem locally and globally," said Mr. Walter Lee, Assistant Vice President for StarHub's Business IP Services. "While the challenges are complex and spam would not be completely eradicated in the foreseeable future, this multi-pronged approach does go a long way towards helping individuals, companies and service providers limit the problems of spam. Better co-ordination, constant education, with industry wide self regulation on best practices will help in containing spam."
"CASE is pleased to see a huge step forward in our anti-spamming efforts and will fully support this movement. Legislation provides the recourse against irresponsible spammers who has affected the economic fabric of our society while we await innovation to resolve the technology problem and we work on education to solve the human ones, said Mr. Seah Seng Choon, Executive Director of Consumer Association of Singapore."
Commenting on the efforts to curb spam in Singapore, Ms. Lisa Watson, Chairman of Direct Marketing Association of Singapore said, "The Direct Marketing Association of Singapore takes spam very seriously because it threatens the viability of a communications channel that both consumers and marketers want to have available to them. It is the responsibility of every direct marketing practitioner to understand the principles of effective customer management and follow proper procedures when using customer data to further their marketing goals."
"In today's environment the use of email has become an inevitable part of businesses and it is important to come together to exchange ideas, discuss strategies and evaluate solutions from the public, private and business sectors to curb spam emails and grow their business online. Such initiatives will be of help to businesses", said Ms. Cheryl Kong, Deputy Division Director of Singapore Business Federation.
"The multi-pronged approach adopted by the IDA offers a holistic response to a pervasive global problem of e-mail spam," said SiTF Chairman Saw Ken Wye. "SiTF is fully committed to supporting this programme by providing the technological solutions, and in helping to educate the general public on the e-mail spam problem."
"The IDA's approach is pro-business, as it provides greater clarity in defining what is and what is not spam. Such clarity is important in enabling businesses to conduct legitimate and responsible marketing activities using e-mail without being accused of spamming," he added.
- Fact Sheet A: Internet Service Providers' Efforts to Curb E-mail Spam in Singapore (36.00KB)
- Fact Sheet B: SiTF's Efforts to Curb E-mail Spam in Singapore (46.50KB)
- Fact Sheet C: DMAS's Efforts to Curb E-mail Spam in Singapore (31.50KB)
- Fact Sheet D :CASE's Efforts to Curb E-mail Spam in Singapore (26.50KB)