The UK Government is to clampdown on nuisance calls by changing the law following a campaign by the North Ayrshire and Arran MP, Patricia Gibson.
Patricia Gibson MP’s Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors): Ten Minute Rule Bill was introduced to Parliament on 13 September and included provisions to hold company bosses personally responsible for nuisance calls, by giving the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the power to take action against named company directors found to have made unsolicited marketing calls in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.
Following the debate in Westminster, UK Ministers have now agreed to Patricia Gibson’s proposal to end the scourge of nuisance calls by legislating for company directors to be fined up to £500,000 each if they are found to be in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Prior to this, only the businesses were liable for fines, many of which escape paying nuisance call penalties by declaring bankruptcy – a practice known as “phoenixing”- only to open up again under a new name.
Nuisance callers plague my constituents in West Dunbartonshire and can cause significant distress, particularly to elderly and vulnerable people. Such harassment is unacceptable, which is why the SNP, ably led by my colleague Patricia Gibson MP, have vigorously pursued a positive resolution to this issue.
I am delighted that the Government will now legislate and introduce the measures proposed in the ten minute rule bill Patricia brought forward in September. This is an important step in tackling nuisance calls. Company directors can no longer escape the consequences of their unlawful actions, and I look forward to these changes coming into force from spring 2017.
Darren Shirley, Campaigns Manager Which?, had the following to say:
“This is a massive victory and would not have happened without Patricia Gibson MP’s support. It’s good to see the Government has listened.
“This legislation will stop rogues dodging fines for bombarding consumers with nuisance calls and side-stepping the rules by closing one business and re-establishing a new one.”
To date, fines totalling almost £3.7million have been issued to companies behind nuisance marketing. This year alone, the ICO has fined firms responsible for more than 70 million calls and nearly 8 million spam text messages. Over 114,000 nuisance calls and texts were reported to ICO in the first nine months of 2016.
Reporting a nuisance call is simple: visit the ICO website at www.ico.org.uk or call their helpline on 0303 123 1113 and they will take it from there.