Who: The Office of Communications (Ofcom) and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS)
When: 27 May 2016
Law stated as at: 27 May 2016
On 27 May 2016, the UK Telephone Preference Service (TPS) joined forces with Ofcom, the communications regulator in the UK, with the launch of a new ‘text-to-register’ service, which enables mobile phone users to add their number to the UK’s official ‘do not call’ database by texting ‘TPS’ and their email address to 78070.
Telemarketers are reminded that under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR), making unsolicited sales and marketing calls to numbers registered with the TPS is illegal unless the subscriber in question has separately notified the caller that he or she does not object to marketing calls being made to the number in question.
Ofcom hopes that its ‘quick and easy text-to-register process’ will raise awareness of the TPS being available for mobile numbers and drive registration.. According to Ofcom research, only 48% of those are aware of the TPS are also aware that that mobile numbers can be registered, compared to 88% for landline phone numbers.
Ofcom states that once a number has been registered, registrants should notice a reduction in unsolicited sales and marketing voice calls after a few days, although it warned that it might take up to 28 days for the preference service to become fully effective. However, Ofcom has made it clear that such registration will not prevent spam text messages- something that might have been welcomed by mobile phone users.
A study commissioned by Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in July 2014 has found that people registering with the TPS saw a reduction of 31% in the monthly volume of live sales or marketing calls received. We will have to wait and see how this new ‘text-to-register’ service will help tackle nuisance calls made to mobile phone users registered with the TPS.
Why this matters:
The new text to register service emphasises the government’s on-going commitment to combating rogue callers. In addition, texting will make it easier for individuals to register their mobile numbers on the TPS, which is the only official no-call list in the UK. An increase in the number of registrations with the TPS will give the ICO more ammunition to prosecute instances of unsolicited sales and marketing calls.
ICO has lead responsibility under the PECR for taking enforcement action against organisations that make unsolicited sales or marketing calls to numbers registered with the TPS.
Baroness Neville Rolfe, the minister responsible for data protection, said: “Nuisance calls are incredibly intrusive and can cause significant distress, particularly to elderly and vulnerable members of society. Government is committed to tackling this problem, and […] this new service from the TPS and Ofcom will help protect people with mobile phones, making it easier for them to register via text and opt out of the call list.”
To ensure compliance with the PECR and avoid heavy fines of up to £500,000 for nuisance calls, telemarketers should always screen numbers to be called against the TPS list.