Easier route for ICO to fine nuisance callers

The Department for Culture Media and Sport announced today that it will amend the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and remove the requirement of “substantial damage or substantial distress” as a prerequisite for the ICO to be able to fine nuisance callers.

The changes will take effect from 6 April. The lowering of the threshold means that it will be easier for the ICO to prosecute and issue fines up to £500,000 for non-compliance with PECR.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “We’re also going to look at whether the powers the ICO have to hold to account board level executives for such behaviour are sufficient or we need to do more.”

The ICO and OFCOM, the Independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, will be able to share information and will be working more closely together.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Vaizey said that a single authority was not on the cards, however. A standing committee, including OFCOM and the ICO will meet every few months. Both regulators will deal with complaints. The ministry has also audited the Telephone Preference Scheme to make sure it works the way it should, he said.

The government is also looking to introduce mandatory caller line identification (CLI) so that all marketing callers will have to display their telephone numbers.