Clampdown on cold calling; Or, Marketing companies to find new loopholes
Those blessed ministers of ours are going to issue a crackdown on nuisance phone calls by companies and charities and, for those that don't tow the line, there's going to be fines of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Of course, marketing companies aren't daft and will soon find ways around any new rules and continue to be the needy ex boyfriend of advertising, so it makes you wonder why anyone bothers trying to police them at all.
Either way, culture secretary Maria Miller has to be seen to be doing something and as such, has called for a lowering of the threshold for when action can be taken against companies. Currently, they are only culpable if they're guilty of causing 'substantial damage or distress'. Presumably, new rules will see them fined for being 'a bit annoying'.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) doesn't say 'a bit annoying', but rather, wants the government to penalise businesses where "nuisance, annoyance, inconvenience, anxiety" are caused. That could even apply to a firm that has made only one call.
Miller said: "Nuisance calls must stop. At best they are an irritation and an unwanted intrusion; at worst they cause real distress and fear, particularly to the elderly or housebound. People need to feel safe and secure in their homes. The rules are clear – people have the right to choose not to receive unsolicited marketing calls. We will work to ensure their choice is respected."
Justice secretary Chris Grayling added: "The scale of these fines shows just how serious we are about stopping them. The claims management regulator already takes tough action against companies which break the rules – suspending and closing down rogue firms – but now these fines will give us an extra weapon to drive bad behaviour out of the industry."
Don't hold your breath.