Government is clamping down on rogue telemarketers | DMA

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Government is clamping down on rogue telemarketers


The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has responded to the consultation on lowering the legal threshold required to fine rogue companies who break the law to make nuisance calls and they have decided to remove the threshold altogether.

In the past the ICO had to prove that the company making illegal calls had caused substantial ‘harm’ or ‘distress’, this onerous test made it difficult for the ICO to fine rogue companies. Whereas, now that the threshold has been removed completely the ICO will be able to pursue those companies who make illegal calls and spam texts in breach of the regulations more easily. Moreover, today’s announcement should act as deterrent to those companies thinking about breaking the law.

Mike Lordan, director of external affairs at the DMA, said:

The DMA has been spearheading the industry’s initiatives to tackle the problem of nuisance calls and text spam, and so welcomes the Ministers announcement. It’s good news for the telemarketing industry that DCMS is at last changing the legislation to make it easier to fine rogue companies. Lowering the burden of proof will be an important tool in protecting the legitimate telemarketing industry and consumers from the scourge of nuisance calls

However, it is important that the ICO has the resources to carry out the larger amount of enforcement work required to make the legislation a success. Nonetheless, this is a key stepping stone in the fight against nuisance calls and spam texts made by rogue companies.

Political momentum is ratcheting up, as this announcement is off the back off the Which? Nuisance Calls Taskforce Report, which outlined 15 recommendations to deal with the problem of nuisance calls for businesses, industry bodies, regulators and government.

The DMA has long been calling for a reduction in the legal threshold and is pleased that the change to the legislation will take place in this Parliament, before the next election, as this change is overdue. The legitimate telemarketing industry will breathe a sigh of relief that the something is finally being done to deal with the problem of rogue telemarketers.

Mike Crockart, Liberal Democrat chair of the nuisance calls All Party Parliamentary Group said:

"It is fantastic to see the Government taking action to give the ICO the powers it needs in order to take effective enforcement action against firms which bombard people across the UK with nuisance calls every day.

“A number of high profile appeals have shown weakness in the ICO’s enforcement powers. While the ICO was able to issue civil monetary penalties to companies found to be breaking the rules, it was widely known that if appealed, they would likely be overturned. This situation resulted in a number of companies escaping without penalty after causing stress, misery and frustration to millions of people across the UK.

“In my view, one nuisance call is one too many and today’s announcement sends a loud and clear message that if you break the rules you will be identified and fined. I hope the ICO makes full use of this change in the law to pursue all companies engaged in scams or who flout the rules in using mass marketing whether carelessly or deliberately. The harm and nuisance is felt just as keenly, whatever the cause.”

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You're right about the ICO needing the resources for enforcement, but they are going to need even bigger resources once the EU Data Protection Regulation hits in 2016-2018. Gearing up now makes sense. Overall, great news for legitimate telemarketing agencies and inside sales departments.

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