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Directors soon to be held to account with fines for making nuisance calls

 Article added: 24/10/2016
Directors to be personally fined for nuisance calls

The Privacy Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) first came into force in December 2003. Since then there have been 4 amendments.

Date Details
Original Regulation December 2003 PECR first came into force including the Telephone Preference Service
Amendment May 2004 The Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) was introduced
Amendment May 2011 Amendment to cover Data Breaches
Amendment April 2015 Amendment to allow Emergency Services to gain access to your location
Amendment May 2016 Amendment to cover Direct Marketing companies having to use a CLI
Planned Amendment April 2017 Amendment to make company directors personally liable to fines for breaches of PECR

Now a 5th amendment planned for early 2017 will make Directors personally liable for breaches under PECR.

The proposal suggests that from Spring 2017 up to two directors can be fined up to £500,000 each meaning a total of £1 million in personal fines for PECR breaches.

Presently, only the business is liable to a fine which means that if the business folds the fine goes with it. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has seen this time and time again with companies folding almost immediately after receiving a fine and then opening up a new business to carry on from where they left off. Now the Government is planning to provide the ICO with more powers to hold company directors directly responsible.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said:

“Nuisance callers are a blight on society, causing significant distress to elderly and vulnerable people. We have been clear that we will not stand for this continued harassment, and this latest amendment to the law will strike another blow to those businesses and company bosses responsible.

This tough new stance is just one of a number of measures introduced by Government in its ongoing campaign against nuisance callers and work to better protect the personal data of UK citizens. These have included forcing companies to display their caller ID and working with Trading Standards to provide call blocking devices to vulnerable members of society.”

The new Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham said:

“The people running nuisance call companies have little regard for the anxiety and the upset they cause all in the name of turning a fast profit.

We are inundated with complaints from people who are left shaken and distressed by the intrusion on their daily lives.

We’re quick to fine the companies responsible, but we’ve been speaking to the Government about going further than that because we must do all we can to help protect people from these calls.

Making directors responsible will stop them ducking away from fines by putting their company into liquidation. It will stop them leaving by the back door as the regulator comes through the front door.”

This year alone the ICO has levied fines to firms responsible for more than 70 million calls and nearly 8 million spam text messages and issued fines of almost £3.7 million to date.

The ICO has received in excess of 114,000 reports of nuisance calls and texts this year alone.

Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home & Legal services, said:

“This is a massive victory for the hundreds of thousands of people who supported our Nuisance Calls campaign. It’s good to see the Government has listened to consumers and will be introducing new rules to hold company directors to account. This legislation will stop rogues dodging fines for bombarding consumers with nuisance calls and side-stepping the rules by closing one business and re-establishing a new one.”

Richard Kane, TPS Services said:

“It was only a matter of time before this happened. The ICO feels ineffective with issuing fines that it can’t collect and it means that companies breaching the TPS or other PECR related offences simply get away with it time and time again and that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that the industry learns from itself. Directors undoubtedly share advice amongst themselves on how best to deal with things like fines from the ICO and right now that probably includes ‘close your business and start a new one’. Well that option is about to be taken off the table.”

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