The nuisance call crackdown could unwittingly wreak havoc for legitimate direct marketing firms after the Government task force said opt-in consent for third-party data should expire after just six months.
The demand, which would cost the industry millions of pounds to implement and force lead generation companies to constantly update their data, is contained in a report by the Nuisance Call Task Force and is one of 15 recommendations to tackle what it calls the “modern-day menace”.
Although the six-month timescale is part of the Information Commissioner’s Office “best practice guidelines” it is currently not legally enforceable.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, who chairs the task force, claimed that the trade in personal data was “out of control”, adding that the “market in personal data needs properly investigating and sorting out”. He called on regulators to clamp down on the abuse of existing legislation, including trying to block lead generators from selling on customer telephone details.
Other recommendations include making nuisance calls a boardroom issue by forcing businesses to have a named company director to ensure there is no illegal use of private phone numbers. Companies should also ensure any sales leads they buy have been fairly and legally obtained and records of what consent has been obtained, as well as how and when, must be kept.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “For too long nuisance calls have plagued consumers, often at very inconvenient times of the day and in some cases leaving vulnerable people like the elderly too scared to answer the phone.
“That’s why we’re determined to tackle this scourge through the first ever nuisance calls action plan.
The report is part of the Government’s response to a massive rise in nuisance calls, estimated to top 1 billion a year. In a separate move, the Coalition has also launched a consultation on lowering the threshold for fines issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
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