Parliament Sitting on 10 May 2021

QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER


29. Ms Raeesah Khan:
To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) whether the number of marketeers who have faced industry-level sanctions for breaching the Guidelines on Interactive Marketing Communications and Social Media are tracked; (b) if so, how many have been in breach since the Guidelines are established in 2016; and (c) whether the Ministry intends to introduce legislation or policies to improve the transparency of advertisements on social media and better protect consumer interests.

Answer:

The Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), an advisory council to the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE), issued the Guidelines on Interactive Marketing Communication and Social Media as part of the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP) in August 2016. The guidelines clarify how advertisers and the parties they work with should design and manage their digital and social media marketing communications, so as to enable consumers to make informed choices about the products and services advertised online. The guidelines were developed in consultation with social media agencies, public agencies, multinational companies and members of the public.

2. From August 2016 to 2020, there were 10 breaches by 7 marketers, mainly pertaining to the lack of disclosure of sponsored content. The marketers amended their marketing communication to comply with the guidelines after being notified by ASAS.

3. The advertising industry in Singapore is self-regulated. ASAS’ SCAP helps to ensure that advertisements are legal, decent, honest and truthful. Consumers can also play an important role, such as by exercising caution against advertisements that seem too good to be true.

4. False and misleading claims about products and services are prohibited under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA). Companies that persistently engage in such unfair trade practices could be referred to the Competition and Consumer Commission (CCCS) for investigation.

5. ASAS is in the process of reviewing the SCAP to ensure alignment with international and community standards and changes in the advertising landscape. MCI and MTI will continue to engage ASAS on its efforts to safeguard consumer interests, uphold standards of advertisements and ensure its guidelines remain relevant and fit-for-purpose amidst the evolving advertising landscape.