Information Commissioner's Office
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ICO welcomes changes to help target nuisance callers and spam texters

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has welcomed the announcement by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that it will make it easier for our office to take action against companies making nuisance calls and sending spam texts.

Welcoming the changes, Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said:

"The rules around marketing calls have been a licence for spammers and scammers, and people are sick of them. This law change gives consumers the chance to fight back.

“We still need people to report these calls to us, but now we can use those complaints to better target the companies behind this nuisance.”

Electronic marketing, including marketing calls and texts, are covered by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). The regulations require organisations to have an individual’s consent to make automated marketing calls or send marketing texts to that person. For live marketing calls, the organisation must not contact people that have opted out of receiving them; most commonly by registering with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

The ICO currently has the power to issue monetary penalties of up to £500,000 if the ICO is able to prove that the marketing calls or messages caused, or had the potential to cause, ‘substantial damage or distress’. The ICO has called for this bar to be lowered to make it easier to fine companies who are breaching the regulations but who would currently not meet this statutory bar.

The DCMS has published details about the changes. The changes are set to come into effect on 6 April 2015.

An ICO blog last year set out what changes consumers would see if the law was changed, notably fewer calls and texts.

Notes to Editors

1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

3. The ICO is on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn, and produces a monthly e-newsletter.

4. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:

  • Fairly and lawfully processed
  • Processed for limited purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate and up to date
  • Not kept for longer than is necessary
  • Processed in line with your rights
  • Secure
  • Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection

5. If you need more information, please contact the ICO press office on 0303 123 9070.


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