Who: Telephone Preference Services (TPS), Ofcom, Information Commissioners Office (ICO)
When: 30 December 2016
Law stated as at: 24 January 2017
On 30 December 2016, the task of maintaining the TPS and keeping it up to date, moved from Ofcom to the ICO.
The intention is that the ICO will be able to deal with complaints at a quicker rate than Ofcom and consumers will find it easier to make complaints against nuisance callers.
The TPS is a free service for both mobile and landline users. Users are able to register on the TPS to block unsolicited direct marketing calls. In the UK, marketers must screen their contact list for direct marketing calls against the TPS. Any company which fails to do this risks enforcement by the ICO, unless the individual had told the marketer that they wished to receive marketing calls from them and consented to receiving such communications.
The ICO was already responsible for enforcement and fines for nuisance calls and it received a total of 153,525 reported concerns relating to nuisance calls in 2016. The hope is that, now that ICO is in control of the TPS, it will be easier for it to investigate complaints and bring action for breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) where such calls are concerned. This is because ICO will now have direct access to the data contained on the TPS and will control the maintenance of the register.
Why this matters:
This is one of a raft of recent measures taken by the government in an attempt to reduce the number, and impact, of nuisance calls in the UK. For example, the government recently announced that, from Spring 2017, it will be calling for fines of up to £500,000 levied against company directors, rather than just the company itself, for making nuisance calls in breach of PECR. This is an attempt to avoid repeats of the recent instances where ICO imposed fines on companies for nuisance calls, only for those companies to escape the fines by declaring bankruptcy or winding themselves up.