Culture minister Ed Vaizey has warned telemarketing cowboys that the ICO is gunning for them, after the Government finally confirmed new laws to crack down on nuisance calls.
Following a major campaign by the DMA, which has been taken up by Information Commissioner Christopher Graham in recent years, the new laws – which see the threshold for complaints slashed – will come into effect on April 6.
There had been claims the Government was dragging its feet over the issue but finally – following a six-week consultation – the new measures have been revealed. The DMA and ICO have both backed the new regulations.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Vaizey said just a single complaint could now trigger a fine from the ICO but suggested it would be persistent offenders who would be most likely to be in the dock.
Vaizey said the ICO knew who many of the rogue companies were but had been unable to act – until now – following the 2013 High Court ruling which overturned a £300,000 fine against a director of Tetrus Telecom because the regulator could not prove recipients had suffered “substantial damage or substantial distress”.
Vaizey added: “For far too long companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, and escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm.
“This change will make it easier for the Information Commissioner’s Office to take action against offenders and send a clear message to others that harassing consumers with nuisance calls or texts is just not on.”
The Government also confirmed it was looking at other measures – including caller ID for all marketing calls as well as making board level executives responsible for nuisance calls and texts.
But the Fair Telecoms Campaign, which contributed to the consultation, said the announcement was only a “tiny step in the right direction”.
David Hickson, from the campaign, told the BBC: “Using the limited capacities of the ICO and [telecoms regulator] Ofcom can never succeed now that the problem has been allowed to grow to its present scale.”
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