Under the current law the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is required to prove that a company caused ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ by making marketing calls or texts before action can be taken.
However after a six-week public consultation, the Government is now removing this legal threshold, giving the ICO the power to intervene in more cases. The change will come into effect from 6 April 2015.
In addition, the Government said it will look at introducing measures to hold board level executives responsible for nuisance calls and texts.
The announcement follows a report by a taskforce led by consumer rights group Which? last December. This called for a review of the rules in order to act as a stronger deterrent to rogue companies, noting that four out of five people say they are regularly cold-called at home.
Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said: “For far too long companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, and escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm.
“This 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.”
Since January 2012, the ICO has taken enforcement action against nine companies for nuisance calls and text messages, resulting in fines totalling £815,000.