It has been over two years in the making but the Government has finally passed legislation which will make directors of rogue telemarketing firms personally liable for fines of up to £500,000.
The law – which comes into effect on December 17 – was first proposed in 2016 in The Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors) Bill, but it was shelved before its second reading in the run-up to last year’s General Election.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has long been pushing for a change in the law due to the fact that so many company directors have swerved paying fines by shutting up shop.
Decision Marketing launched its own “Call Time on Rogue Marketers” campaign in February after an FoI request found that of the 40 companies which had received Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) penalties between 2015 and January 2018, 27 had either gone into liquidation to avoid the fine or been brought down by other creditors.
Both the ICO and the DMA backed the Decision Marketing initiative.
Since then, five directors of telemarketing firms – Shaun Harkin of Easyleads, Allan Brown and Kenneth Haswell of Nevis Home Improvements, Leah Masters of Cold Call Elimination and Tony Abbott of Reactiv Media – have been barred for a total of 30 years.
Now, following a consultation, the legislation has been placed on the statute book – with no official announcement – in an amendment to PECR, giving the ICO extra powers to pursue individuals.
In a blog post, Mischon de Reya data protection advisor Jon Baines said: “As the ICO has long lobbied for this extension to its regulatory powers, it is to be expected that we will soon see examples made. So those directors who knowingly or negligently allow their companies to send unlawful electronic marketing should be looking over their shoulders.”
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