Nuisance Calls: Department of Culture, Media & Sport Response to Which?

Author: Department of Sport, Culture & Media

Date: 25th February 2015

DCMS response to Which? led Taskforce recommendations for Government of 8 December 2014

10. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and the Ministry of Justice, should review the ability of the ICO to hold to account board-level executives who fail to comply with rules and guidance on the use of consumers’ personal data for marketing purposes, and amend legislation to give the ICO further powers as necessary.

It appears to be a good idea in principle to hold directors to account for the actions of their organisation, however, there would be legal implications in progressing this recommendation, which will need to be carefully considered. Currently, there is no explicit responsibility for board-level executives contained in the PECR so holding those individuals to account would not be straightforward, whether under existing legislation, or new and there would be a number of considerations for both.

It will also be important to consider this recommendation in light of ongoing work. Since January 2012, the ICO has taken enforcement action against nine companies with monetary penalties totalling £815,000 being issued for calls and text messages. On 25 October 2014, we launched our consultation, which closed on 6 December, proposing to make it easier for theICO to take enforcement action by lowering or removing the legal threshold. The Government’s Response to that consultation was published today (25 February)and the ICO already have in mind further monetary penalties that could be issued following the threshold being removed. Also, in July 2014, we legislated to amend Section 393 of the Communications Act 2003, which enabled Ofcom to more easily disclose information to the ICO that is ultimately helping in their efforts to take more action and we made this measure effective on 15 July 2014.

The Taskforce indicated in its report that it generally considered the existing range of legislation can provide adequate consumer protection and allow legitimate marketing and adequate time should now be permitted to determine whether the additional range of measures prove sto be sufficient to deal with the problem of nuisance calls. However, in view of continued concern about nuisance calls, we will review the ability of the ICO to hold to account board levelexecutives for such calls, including whether this would require, if possible, the ICO to be granted any further powers.

Read the full report here

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