ICO welcomes nuisance calls and texts law change

20 April 2015

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) received 175,330 reports of nuisance calls and texts from concerned people in 2014. A new law will now make it easier for the ICO to issue fines to companies that break the law.

The Information Commissioner has welcomed the change to the law around nuisance calls and texts, which he says “will make a difference”.

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, said:

“We’ve been pushing for this change for two years, and we’re sure it will make a difference. The change will help us to make more fines stick, and more fines should prove a real deterrent to the people making these calls.

Previously, we’ve had to prove a company had caused ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ by making their nuisance calls. That’s not easy for us to do, no matter how many people have had their privacy disturbed by someone offering to sell them solar panels or promising compensation ‘for that accident you had’.”

From 6 April 2015, the ICO will just have to prove that the company was committing a serious breach of the law (Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations).

The law allows companies to make marketing phone calls without prior permission, but they must first check the Telephone Preference Service, which lists individuals who have opted out of marketing calls. Companies need permission before they can send marketing text messages, and should always give details of how the recipient can opt out of any future messages.

Christopher Graham points out that the ICO will be collecting evidence for investigations under the new rules and that means that people need to report calls and texts to them. Then they can start investigating cases, and ultimately issuing penalties.