The Information Commissioner’s Office cannot say how many nuisance call complaints were resolved last year – despite receiving nearly 450 each day – as it does not have the details.
According the ICO’s annual report, published today, 161,729 complaints were made under the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations which cover telemarketing and online activity.
However, there is not a single mention of whether any were resolved; 45.7% were over automated calls, 34.7% for live calls and 18.6% over spam texts.
And the true scale of the problem is still unknown, as the ICO is only one of the organisations which receive complaints over the issue, with BT, Ofcom, the TPS and even Citizens Advice also contacted. One Government estimate put the figure at more than 1 billion nuisance calls a year.
The Government has already pledged to lower the threshold needed for the ICO to issue fines, with legislation pencilled in before Christmas.
Data protection complaints rose nearly 10% on the previous 12 months, with the ICO resolving 15,492. The big villains last year were lenders, local government, health authorities and central government which combined accounted for over 45% of complaints. Half of all gripes were over subject access.
In the past year, the ICO issued £1.97m in penalties to companies found to breach data protection rules.
The ICO’s helpline was also kept busy, receiving nearly 260,000 calls last year. The majority of calls concerned registration and general advice about the ICO’s role. Only 5% questioned what data was held about them.
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham used the release of the annual report to call for better funding and stronger powers.
He said: “Facebook, [NHS] care.data, Google: it is clear that organisations’ use of data is getting ever more complicated. People need to know someone is watching over their information.
“Independence means someone who’s got the resources to take on this ever-growing number of cases. The last 12 months have been a record year – more complaints resolved than ever, more enforcement action taken and more advice given through our helpline.
“And it also means having the powers to act on the more serious complaints. A strong regulator is needed if a data breach affects millions of people.”
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