Toughening of law against nuisance telephone calls welcomed


Alan Reid MP for Argyll and Bute,  a member of the all-party group set up to tackle nuisance telephone calls, has welcomed the news that the Government will make it easier for the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) to get tough against the firms behind these infuriating, everyday occurrences.

From 6 April, the ICO will no longer have to prove that the calls are causing ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ before taking action against those responsible.

"Nuisance phone calls an infuriating part of everyday life," said Mr Reid. "Registering with the TPS (Telephone Preference Service) only reduced the calls by less than a third. No wonder people are raging angry about these calls when they contact my office; they get bombarded with these calls, day-in-day-out. So it is good to see the government give the ICO this new, tougher power."

He added: "Up until now, the  Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) had the power to fine companies up to half a million pounds if they broke the law on nuisance calling, but the law  required the ICO to prove a company caused 'substantial damage or substantial distress' by their conduct.

"Proving this has been difficult and one recent fine was thrown out by the court because they felt that 'substantial damage or substantial distress' hadn't been caused. Now the ICO no longer has to prove this in court the way is open to hit these nuisances repeatedly with heavy fines.

"These calls have caused real distress and upset to many people, especially the elderly and frail."

NOTES

The Statutory Instrument needed to make this change will be lodged in Parliament with the change in legislation coming into effect from 6 April.

The All Party Group heard evidence from Ofcom, the Office of Communications, and the ICO, the Information Commissioners Office, on the work they are doing to tackle nuisance calls and also from the consumer group Which? plus thousands of people who had been bombarded with calls.


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