Trade & industry to build spam 'opt-out' register - TechCentral

Trade & industry to build spam ‘opt-out’ register

Sipho Tleane

The department of trade & industry will release a request for an expression of interest for potential service providers to set up and manage an opt-out registry to complement the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

The department is still in discussions about how the registry will work and whether a private business will be selected to run the service. However, at its basic level, the registry will be a database of consumers who do not want to be contacted on certain communication mediums.

“We are still finalising discussions around who will run the register, but we are leaning towards a private company on this,” says Sipho Tleane, director of legal support at the consumer and corporate regulation division at trade & industry.

He says the purpose of the registry is to allow consumers to block communications that they don’t want, while detailing communications they do want. “Consumers won’t be blocking themselves from everything,” he says.

The registry is good news for consumers who have fallen prey to a wave of SMS and e-mail spam due to the sometimes-illegal exchange of telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

Tleane says businesses will still be allowed to build their own marketing information, including phone numbers and e-mail addresses. However, they will now have to crosscheck the details of their lists with the registry to make sure a consumer has not blocked the potential marketing.

“You will not be able to go and get the information from the registry and use it as your marketing database. That will not be allowed,” he says.

Consumers who register will have to provide an ID number, telephone number and e-mail address before they will be added to the list.

Tleane says the expression of interest will also include all the technical requirements the department will need for the registry.  — Candice Jones, TechCentral


  1. Why not just enforce the ECT of 2002, Section 45e that enforces opt-out compliance already?

    It’s already written in the law. Building another database is not going to help anyone if the law is not enforced. No number of new databases will empower a toothless regulator.

  2. Why aren’t they doing this for snail-mail as well as for the unaddressed post that we get in our mail boxes? Why is it only geared at telecommunications media?
    And what about the cost to marketers to find out who is on the list in the first place?

  3. The issue it not whether I want to block out all SMS campaigns I find myself in nor stop receiving all postal information, I do want certain marketing information sent to me. It should be about me saying I do not want Company X to contact me anymore. Often I say I’m not interested please remove my number from your database, only to be contacted a few days later, by the same company. I think the database should be for consumers to complain about specific companies that do not respect their wishes and a name and shame campaign / league table to get them to stop.
    Just because a company can cross-reference doesn’t mean they are going to. The telephone number might be slightly different, therefore it will probably not be considered to be in the database for that person. In addition to that I would rather stop general offensive SPAM e-mail than from actual reputable SA companies.
    There will always need to be some form of marketing. Many people in SA have not caught up with the electronic/on-line world like other countries have, they do not all have televisions or buy the newspaper. Flyers, e-mails SMS and telephone is a form of free advertising for the recipient, which is why they should be allowed to choose which companies contact them. A blanket database is not the answer.

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