Information Commissioner's Office
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ICO and Ofcom draw up joint action plan to tackle nuisance calls

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Ofcom yesterday published a joint action plan to tackle the issue of nuisance calls and help protect consumers.

The ICO and Ofcom share responsibility for taking action against organisations that generate nuisance calls or messages. The ICO has lead responsibility for tackling those companies who make nuisance marketing calls or send unsolicited marketing text messages, while Ofcom uses its powers to deal with silent and abandoned calls.

The plan represents a formal commitment from both organisations to work in partnership on a series of initiatives covering a range of areas. It also summarises key work carried out by the ICO and Ofcom in recent months to address the issue of nuisance calls.

Important priorities for the ICO and Ofcom in the months ahead include:

  • ongoing targeted enforcement against non-compliant organisations;
  • improving call and message tracing processes to track down those responsible for making nuisance calls;
  • an assessment of the impact of the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) on the level of unsolicited live sales and marketing calls, to understand how well the TPS is currently working for consumers; and
  • publication of revised industry guidance on marketing consent to include detailed advice on appropriate methods of consent, the limitations of indirect third-party consent, time limits, and the need for records of consent.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director said: “This joint action plan serves to cement our partnership with the ICO as we work together to tackle nuisance calls and protect consumers.”

Simon Entwisle, ICO Director of Operations added: “Only concerted, joint action can tackle the consumer menace of nuisance calls. This plan shows we mean business and outlines how we will continue our work with Ofcom to tackle the problem.”

The joint action plan is available on the Ofcom website. The ICO and Ofcom will publish a general update on progress on this programme of work in early 2014.

blog post to accompany today’s announcement can also be found on the ICO’s website.

A guide for consumers on preventing and complaining about nuisance calls (produced with other regulators and consumer groups) is available on the Ofcom website and has been viewed online almost 160,000 times.

An online portal to help consumers register a complaint by directing them to the appropriate regulator can also be found on the Ofcom website.

For further information you can contact the ICO Press Office on Tel: 0303 123 9070 or the Ofcom Press Office on Tel: 0300 123 4000.

Notes to Editors

  1. The ICO is responsible for enforcing the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (‘PECR’). These regulations prohibit organisations from making unsolicited live direct marketing calls to consumers who have registered their number with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). PECR also prohibits organisations from making automated direct marketing calls or sending unsolicited direct marketing emails or SMS text messages to individual consumers who have not consented to receiving such messages. Ofcom is responsible for taking enforcement action against organisations that make abandoned and silent calls, using its powers under sections 128 to 131 of the Communications Act 2003 in relation to ‘persistent misuse of networks or services’.

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