ICO Annual Report – Will we see a drop in complaints?
The ICO has recently released its Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2014/15. With regards to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), a total of 180,000 concerns were reported by the public over the last year. The Information Commissioner however, is confident that the enhanced powers that were granted by the Government in April will allow them to “nail more of these merchants of menace” – those merchants of menace being the companies who make unsolicited marketing calls and texts to consumers.
The increase in enforcement power granted to the ICO is described in the report as a vote of confidence in the organisation’s policing of the data protection and electronic communications regulations. The key difference now being that nuisance calls and texts no longer have to have caused substantial harm before action can be taken. But have these enhanced powers meant that the ICO has stepped up its issuing of penalties? Since the 1st April 2015, there have not been any monetary penalties issued to any firms regarding breaches of the PECR. However, this may simply represent the challenges faced in the investigation and prosecution of cold calling companies, or perhaps reflects time constraints. This also highlights the fact that action is required from all angles, rather than just from the regulator, in the fight against nuisance calls and texts.
A Look at the past year
Number of concerns reported regarding the PECR
The ICO’s annual report shows an increase in the number of reports made over the previous year. This maybe a direct result of an increase in the number of spam calls and texts, but may also reflect an increase in awareness on the part of the consumer.
The real test for the ICO will come in the year ahead, where an opportunity exists for it to step up the enforcement of the PECR regulations and create a real sense of risk for firms that might be tempted to flout the rules when it comes to direct telemarketing. As a communications provider for many call centres in the UK, Nexbridge actively encourages compliance in the industry, offering real-time TPS cleansing to all of its customers at no extra cost. We also investigate reports of nuisance calls that occasionally come to us, using our nuisance call report form, which all members of the public are free to use when appropriate.
Use the link below to access the ICO’s official annual report. This includes further statistics on reports of concerns regarding cookies, and the relative report numbers for texts, recorded messages and agent calls.