Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

27 OCT 2016

Steve Brine welcomes government clampdown on nuisance call crooks

Steve Brine has warmly welcomed news that company bosses and firms could be slapped with fines of up to £1 million under tough new Government plans aimed at tackling the scourge of nuisance calls.

The Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP has long-campaigned on the issue, and is delighted that from Spring 2017, firm directors can each be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office, if they are found to be in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

Prior to this, only businesses were liable for fines, many of which try to escape paying nuisance call penalties by declaring bankruptcy - only to open up again under a different name. But in a move to tackle this issue, Government is providing the ICO with 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.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: "The people running nuisance call companies have little regard for the anxiety and 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."

To date, the ICO has issued fines totalling almost £3.7million to companies behind nuisance marketing. This year alone, the ICO has fined firms responsible for more than 70 million calls and nearly 8 million spam text messages, and more than 114,000 nuisance calls and texts have been reported to ICO this year.

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."

Steve Brine said: "A group of us carried out a huge amount of work on this in the last Parliament, and while these calls are merely extremely frustrating for many of my constituents, they also cause a huge amount of worry among older and more vulnerable residents. This is excellent news, and this new legislation could not be clearer for rogue bosses."

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