Industry action on spam texts needs to be underpinned by statutory teeth

It’s taken a long-time but this week I finally became a victim of spam texters and nuisance callers.

Russell Parsons

On Tuesday, two texts about reclaiming mis-sold PPI and Wednesday a robo-call about claiming damages for an accident I have not had. 

And you know what, it is bloody annoying. Not only annoying but also plain stupid. I know it’s low cost but really, does anyone ever bite? 

Someone, somewhere must do otherwise the companies behind the texts and calls wouldn’t bother. 

Action to consign offenders to the dustbin of marketing history is been taken by regulators and self-regulatory bodies. 

Last week mobile operators trade association GSMA announced it has developed a Spam reporting service with its biggest constituents – O2, EE, Three and Vodafone – and the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

Victims of spam are encouraged to forward them to the service, which allows operators to take action against the senders.

Interestingly, those involved are said to be preparing to extend the reporting service to nuisance calls. 

For its part, the ICO slammed the practices of two telemarketing companies in the North West last week for making nuisance calls. 

As welcome as measures like those taken by the GSMA et al are they lack the teeth that action emanating from Westminster would possess. 

According to the timetable of many in the direct marketing space, a Government consultation on making nuisance call regulation easier to enforce as well as changes to consent rules was due in January so it could now be considered late. 

Priorities change on a regular basis in the corridors of power but people’s level of anger about receiving spam texts and calls does not. 

If you could allow for wild speculation for a moment, could it be that action is being delayed until closer to the General Election for The Conservatives to achieve maximum vote-winning impact? 

After all, if ministers convinced themselves reducing bingo tax was a vote winner then it shouldn’t be too hard to imagine the electoral impact of a hot button topic like nuisance calls. 

Whether it is deliberate delay or the victim of parliamentary machinery, a sense of urgency needs to be employed.

As pointless and annoying as spam texters and nuisance callers are, they are nothing if not resourceful. Voluntary initiatives and stern words are fantastic and to be applauded but stronger Government action is also needed.