Fining companies that bombard people with nuisance calls and texts should be easier, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid announced today.
The Government has published a six week consultation on lowering the legal threshold before firms responsible for nuisance calls and texts can be hit with fines of up to £500,000.
The law currently requires the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to prove a company caused ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ by their conduct.
The Government wants to reduce this to causing ‘annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety’.
Sajid Javid said:
“Companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, but have escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm.
“Being called day after day may not be ‘substantially distressing’, but that doesn’t make it acceptable.
“I want to make it easier for companies to face the consequences of ignoring the law and subjecting us to calls or texts we have said we don’t want.”
Justice and Civil Liberties Minister Simon Hughes said:
“Being pestered by marketing calls and texts is annoying at the best of times.
“But at its worst it can bring real misery for the people on the receiving end and this Government is determined to tackle the problem.
“We have already increased the level of fine available to punish rogue companies. Now we want to make it easier to stamp it out by lowering the threshold for taking action against these companies so the Information Commissioner can move more quickly and deal more firmly with those who break the law.”
Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, and chair of the Government’s Task-force on marketing consent said:
“Changing the rules so it’s easier for regulators to punish the companies making nuisance calls is a big step forward and a victory for the 125,000 people who supported our Calling Time campaign.
“Millions of us endure unwanted calls and texts every day so these new powers must be introduced as soon as possible. We look forward to the regulators using them to crack down hard on the unscrupulous firms that flout the rules.”
Consumers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) should not receive unsolicited marketing calls unless they have agreed to receive calls from that specific organisation.