The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is the independent regulatory office dealing with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 across the UK plus several other related government acts.

 The Office's mission is to "uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals" 

The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty of up to £500,000.

The ICO is very busy as more than 140,000 concerns about nuisance marketing were reported to the ICO in 2016 – about 370 a day

The ICO has issued more than £1m in fines to cold call crooks in 12 months with another £2m of fines in the pipeline. There is an upcoming law change which would allow ICO to fine not only nuisance call companies but the directors behind them.

ICO Advice on How to Stop Nuisance Calls

1.       Tell the caller you don’t want to receive marketing calls from them. If the organisation continues to call you can report your concerns to ICO

 2.       Register for free with the Telephone Preference Service, a list of people who have opted out of receiving live marketing calls. If you register with the TPS and continue to receive nuisance live marketing calls 28 days after registering, you can complain either directly to the TPS or report your concerns to ICO.

Recent Fines

  •  In February 2016, the ICO fined Prodial, a lead generation company, £350,000 for making 46 million nuisance calls.
  • Nuisance call and spam text firms hit with £2m in fines by the ICO in 2016
  • A London firm behind over 156,000 spam texts has been fined £45,000 by the ICO.
  • Hamilton Digital Solutions fined £45,000 and ordered to stop illegal marketing or face further legal action.

 What About the Cold Callers Who Closedown To Avoid Prosecution?

When prosecuted, some of the cold calling companies have deliberately gone into liquidation so they cannot pay the fine and the prosecution comes to a stop.

The ICO is fighting back against this action by working with other regulators such as the Insolvency Service and Claims Management Regulator.

The Insolvency Service disqualified Hassim Iqbal, the director of personal injury claims management company Check Point Claims, from being a director for failing to comply with regulations relating to its business. Blackburn-based Check Point Claims failed to pay an ICO fine of £250,000 for making 17.5 million nuisance calls.

The Law

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. This will not be affected by the UK’s plans to leave the EU.

See www.fightbackonline.org/index.php/business/47-legal-changes-to-business-to-business-email-marketing  for further information on GDPR.

The ICO has published detailed guidance for companies carrying out marketing – explaining their legal requirements under the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The guidance covers the circumstances in which organisations are able to carry out marketing over the phone, by text, by email, by post or by fax.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:

marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;

cookies (and similar technologies);

keeping communications services secure; and

customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

Actions Taken in November 2017 by ICO

·         9,689 concerns were reported to the ICO in November 2017

·         Hamilton Digital Solutions were fined £45,000 for sending over 150,000 spam texts.

·         Enforcement notices

·         Hamilton Digital Solutions were also issued with an enforcement notice, ordering them to stop illegal marketing or face legal action.

·         177 cases were under investigation

·         25 third party information notices issued (these notices compel communications service providers to give information to the ICO).

Report Nuisance Callers

ICO rely on people reporting nuisance callers, so it’s important to report such problems.

To report a concern to the ICO telephone the helpline on 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know – go to the About page then Contact Us.

 

 


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