On 25 February 2015, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that it is changing the laws with regard to nuisance calls. 

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) currently has the power to impose heavy fines of up to £500,000 on companies that make marketing calls or messages if the ICO can prove that these unwanted calls or messages caused, or had the potential to cause, ‘substantial damage or distress’. However, from 6 April 2015, this requirement will be removed, allowing the ICO to intervene in more cases and penalise those companies that are breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations but fall below the current legal threshold. 

 The UK Government also confirmed that it will look at introducing measures to hold board-level executives responsible for nuisance calls and texts.

The UK’s Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey stated in relation to the announcement; "[t]his change will make it easier for the Information Commissioner’s Office to take action against offenders and send a clear message to others that harassing consumers with nuisance calls or texts is just not on."

The ICO has welcomed the decision to lower the legal threshold for action and the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham said; "[t]his law change gives consumers the chance to fight back." Tackling nuisance calls has been a key focus of the ICO for a number of years.

The announcement follows a 6 week consultation launched by the UK Government in October 2014 and is part of its wider strategy to make it easier for the communications and telecoms industries to grow, while protecting the interests of citizens, media and communications.

To read the full Department for Culture, Media and Sport press release, click here.