Property agent fined S$27,000 for breaching DNC Registry rules

A property agent with Huttons Asia on Monday (Oct 20) became the second person to be convicted for offences related to the Do Not Call (DNC) Registry under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

Kuan Chow Sheng, 32, was fined S$27,000 after he pleaded guilty to nine of 27 charges for breaching DNC Registry rules that came into effect on Jan 2.

Between February and March, Kuan sent unsolicited SMSes to advertise property developments, two in Singapore and one in London, via nine telephone numbers using a bulk SMS-broadcasting software.

The PDPA bans firms from sending marketing messages to any number listed on the DNC Registry without first getting the owner’s consent.

The Personal Data Protection Commission said it had received 235 complaints of unsolicited telemarketing messages sent by Kuan.

Court documents stated that Kuan had continued to send telemarketing “SMS blasts”, even after the Act had come into force, because he had not attended a compliance course on the Act for real estate salespeople yet.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jane Lim argued yesterday that a low fine for Kuan would undermine the effectiveness of the DNC Registry.

The seriousness of not checking the register and not obtaining consent before sending unsolicited telemarketing messages should not be downplayed, as they infringe upon an individual’s fundamental right to privacy, she said. A deterrent sentence was needed as the real estate industry had the highest number of complaints pertaining to DNC-related offences, she added.

However, Kuan’s lawyer Lee Heng Eam appealed for a low fine, saying his client had acted in a moment of folly. He had also been tied up caring for his children and wife, who had pre-natal depression at the time, said Mr Lee.

The property agent, who is still with Huttons Asia, was a first-time offender, added the lawyer. Kuan could have been fined up to S$10,000 for each text message sent.

In August, Star Zest Home Tuition and its director Law Han Wei became the first to be convicted for violating DNC Registry rules. The tuition agency and Law were each fined S$39,000, after pleading guilty to 13 charges.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 21 Oct 2014

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