I was happy to support my colleague Patricia Gibson MP when she brought forward her Ten Minute Rule Bill on the 13th September 2016 and welcome the moves by the UK Government to clampdown on nuisance calls.
The 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 businesses were liable for fines, many of which try to escape paying nuisance call penalties by declaring bankruptcy - a practice known as “phoenixing”- only to open up again under a new name.
I gave a comment to the Kilmarnock Standard shortly after Patricia Gibson’s speech:
“Nuisance calls plague millions of people every year and it is wrong that rogue companies are able to avoid paying the penalty for their unlawful actions.
"At best nuisance calls can be an irritant; at worst they can be a blight on the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society.
“If passed, the bill would hold company bosses personally liable for fines imposed for unsolicited marketing calls – elevating the issue of nuisance calls to the boardroom and ensuring that these companies cannot escape responsibility by going into liquidation.
“If the UK government is serious about tackling the practice of cold-calling it should back my bill and give the ICO the powers needed to pursue unpaid fines.
"This would benefit the taxpayer and act as a strong deterrent to firms engaging in this practice.”
If you would like to find out more about the Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors) Bill the link to the debate in Parliament is here or click the following link to view the speech instead. The Bill has gone to 2nd reading and is due to be heard again on the 18th November 2016.
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.