Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Government cracks down on nuisance calling companies
Consumers plagued by nuisance calls and texts will benefit from the Government changes to the law, which will make it easier for those firms responsible to be hit with fines of up to £500,000.
The law currently requires the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to prove a company caused ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ by their conduct before action can be taken. Following a six-week public consultation, the Government is now removing this legal threshold, giving the ICO the power to intervene in more cases. This change will come into effect from 6 April 2015.
The Government also confirmed it will look at introducing measures to hold board level executives responsible for nuisance calls and texts. This follows a report from the Which?-led taskforce last December, which called for a review of the rules in order to act as a stronger deterrent to rogue companies.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said:
For far too long companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, and escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm.
This change will make it easier for the Information Commissioner’s Office to take action against offenders and send a clear message to others that harassing consumers with nuisance calls or texts is just not on. We’re also going to look at whether the powers the ICO have to hold to account board level executives for such behaviour are sufficient or we need to do more.
The Government is committed to tackling the problem of nuisance calls. In July last year, the rules were changed to make it easier for Ofcom to share information with the ICO on companies breaking the law. This is already helping in the ICO’s efforts in taking more action. In addition, the Government is looking to introduce mandatory caller line identification (CLI) so that all marketing callers will have to display their telephone numbers.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, who chaired the Nuisance Calls Task Force said:
We welcome the Government making good on its promise to change the law so it’s easier to prosecute nuisance callers. These calls are an everyday menace blighting the lives of millions so we want the regulator to send a clear message by using their new powers to full effect without delay.
It’s also good news that the Government has listened to our call and is looking into how senior executives can be held to account if their company makes nuisance calls.
Justice and Civil Liberties Minister Simon Hughes said:
Being pestered by unwanted marketing calls and texts can bring real misery for the people on the receiving end. We have already increased the level of fine available to punish rogue companies. This new change in the law will make it easier from now on for the Information Commissioner to take quick and firm action against companies who give so much grief to so many people.
Nuisance calls and texts remains a significant concern for consumers – in some cases they are not only annoying, but can also cause distress especially amongst vulnerable people in society. The latest data and research shows that:
- Around four out of five people surveyed by consumer group Which? said they are regularly cold-called at home, with a third of them left feeling intimidated.
- There were 15,642 complaints related to nuisance calls and texts made to the ICO in November 2014, of which solar panel accounted for 2,377, whilst for PPI the figure was 1,830.
- In total there were over 175,000 complaints related to nuisance calls and texts made to the ICO for 2014.
Currently the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has powers to take enforcement action against companies who flout the existing rules on direct marketing. Since January 2012, the ICO has taken enforcement action against nine companies for nuisance calls and text messages, hitting them with fines totalling £815,000. Separately, Ofcom has powers to deal with abandoned and silent calls by taking action against offenders that persistently misuse a network or service resulting in annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety. To date Ofcom has fined seven companies totalling £1,618,000 for abandoned and silent calls.
Latest News from
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
New rules to protect ‘distinctively British’ public service broadcasting16/09/2021 11:20:00
Media Minister sets out actions to protect the ongoing success of UK broadcasters during his keynote speech to the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention 2021.
UK launches data reform to boost innovation, economic growth and protect the public13/09/2021 10:10:10
Information Commissioner’s Office to be reformed to help drive economic growth and innovation and strengthen public trust in use of data.
Street lamps and bus shelters to help boost 5G roll out in £4 million trial10/09/2021 12:10:00
* Two-year project to ramp up use of street furniture and public buildings to host 5G radio kit * Project could see CCTV poles, traffic signals and other roadside infrastructure used to boost coverage
Government to consult on better protections for UK audiences on video-on-demand services01/09/2021 13:15:00
Audiences could be better protected from harmful material like misinformation and pseudoscience while watching programmes on video-on-demand services (VoD), Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced.
UK unveils post-Brexit global data plans to boost growth, increase trade and improve healthcare26/08/2021 13:15:00
The UK is today launching a package of measures to help it seize the opportunities of data to boost growth, trade and improve its public services
The Government’s new International Data Transfers Expert Council26/08/2021 12:15:00
DCMS has announced the launch of the International Data Transfers Expert Council to support the UK in championing the international flow of data.
Government announces preferred candidate for Information Commissioner26/08/2021 11:10:00
John Edwards is the Government’s preferred candidate for Information Commissioner, the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced today.
Government data shows mass events can take place safely but fans urged to remain cautious in crowds and get vaccinated23/08/2021 12:10:00
Data across all Event Research Programme (ERP) phases show cases observed in and around events were in line with, or below, community prevalence.