Although regulations governing the use of cold calling have recently changed to make it easier for the Information Commissioner (ICO) to clamp down on organisations that make nuisance calls, the Government has announced plans to allow the ICO to take action against company bosses too.
Currently, only businesses can be fined where there is a breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Some businesses try to avoid paying the penalties for nuisance calling by closing down the business then opening up again with a different name. To try to close this loophole the Government is going to grant the ICO the power to pursue the directors responsible for any breaches of the Regulations.
From Spring 2017, company directors can each be fined up to £500,000 by the ICO if they breach the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
The Government has been trying to tackle the problem of nuisance callers and the improper use of personal data for some time and this is just the latest measure. Campaign group Which? have been pushing hard for further action and Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home & Legal services, said, “This is a massive victory for the hundreds of thousands of people who supported our Nuisance Calls campaign. It’s good to see the Government has listened to consumers and will be introducing new rules to hold company directors to account. 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.”
More than 114,000 nuisance calls and texts have been reported to ICO this year. To date, the ICO has issued fines of almost £3.7million to companies behind nuisance marketing and just this year, the ICO has fined firms responsible for more than 70 million calls and nearly 8 million spam text messages.
Be warned: if you use cold calling or direct messaging as part of your marketing strategy, make sure you’re fully compliant with the Regulations. The ICO’s action against firms breaching the rules is gaining momentum and these new changes only make it easier to issue fines, not just against your business, but you too.
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