The Information Commissioner’s Office may have lost two of its most senior enforcers – with a successor for Christopher Graham also being recruited – but the regulator has warned there will be no let up in its war against rogue marketing companies.
The ICO imposed fines totalling £1,135,000 for nuisance calls and text messages in 2015 on just 11 companies, and says it has 90 ongoing investigations, and a further million pounds’ worth of fines in the pipeline for this misdemeanor alone.
Meanwhile it is also currently sifting through the responses from over 1,000 firms which trade in customer data, following letters sent out in November to check they were acting legally. With the deadline already passed, any firm which has not responded could already be facing enforcement action.
The ICO has the power to issue Information Notices, which legally oblige an organisation to provide it with information, with the threat of court action if they do not. One company which refused was prosecuted in October, and was fined £2,500 for non-compliance and then forced to provide over the information, anyway.
ICO enforcement group manager Andy Curry said: “Nuisance marketing calls frustrate people. The law is clear around what is allowed, and we’ve been clear that we will fine companies who don’t follow the law. That will continue in 2016. We’ve got 90 ongoing investigations, and a million pounds worth of fines in the pipeline.”
The ICO received around 170,000 concerns in 2015 from people who had received nuisance calls and texts, a similar number to the previous year (175,330).
PPI claims prompted the most complaints, followed by accident claims. Areas identified as emerging sectors for nuisance calls and texts included call blocking services, oven cleaning services and industrial hearing injury claims.
However, tackling nuisance calls is just one of the challenges the regulator faces this year, with work on implementing the new EU General Data Protection Regulation likely to begin, the ongoing investigation into charities as well as the appointment of a new Commissioner.
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