Consultation could help Information Commissioner’s Office ‘move more quickly’ against nuisance calls firms

A six week government consultation published this week aims to strengthen the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) capacity to better deal with companies breaking the law over nuisance calls and texts. 

By Sarah.Aston

28 Oct 2014

The consultation aims to change the legal threshold before firms responsible for nuisance calls and texts can be fined by the ICO.

Currently the ICO must prove that a company is causing ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ by using nuisance calls and texts before they can fine the company up to £500,000.

This threshold makes it difficult for the ICO to take action against firms – as was illustrated after Tetrus Telecoms were able to successfully appeal in October 2013 against the ICO’s decision  to fine the company over nuisance texts, as it was ruled that the company had not caused ‘substantial distress’.

The government now wants to change this law so that the ICO can fine those companies causing ‘annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety’.

Culture secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) said: “I want to make it easier for companies to face the consequences of ignoring the law and subjecting us to calls or texts we said we don’t want.”

Richard Lloyd, chair of the government’s taskforce 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.”

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