In this guest post, Mike Crockart MP explains why he’s tired of nuisance phone calls, and why he thinks there needs to be a single point of contact for anyone who wants to see the back of them.
Quite frankly I’m fed up with nuisance calls to my landline and mobile, as well as unsolicited texts. We all know the kind… the text that starts ‘our records show’, or the recording telling us we’re entitled to thousands of pounds due to mis-sold PPI.
It’s an annoyance for me, but for many vulnerable and elderly people it’s also a menace. A menace that puts them at risk of fraud, just as much as if a crook or pushy salesman turned up at their door.
That’s why over the past five months I’ve been running a campaign to get the government to look again at nuisance calls, silent calls and spam texts.
What does the law say and who enforces it?
Ofcom has powers under the Communications Act 2003 to deal with the ‘persistent misuse’ of a communications network or service, which includes the generation of unsolicited and silent calls.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) enforces any breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, which covers rules about unsolicited electronic marketing messages sent by telephone, fax, email or text. The ICO also enforces the Data Protection Act, but it doesn’t deal with silent calls as no marketing information has been shared.
Regulation 19 of the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations 2003 requires organisations making automated marketing telephone calls to have the prior consent of the person being called. This means that ‘live’ marketing calls cannot be made to anyone who has indicated an objection to receiving them, for example, by registering with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
What’s the reality?
People have said to me time and time again that in spite of registering with the TPS they are still plagued by cold calls. So these ‘safeguards’ are actually doing very little to protect us. Yes, Ofcom has fined nine companies for making silent calls, but if the companies persist it must be because, in spite of the fines, it’s worth their while.
I can’t help but feel that the maze of regulations doesn’t help. While there are different regulators and different government departments in charge, there will always be loopholes for these companies to abuse.
How many of you have been sure you haven’t given permission to be called, but still receive calls without knowing how the company got your information? If you’ve tried to make a complaint have you been successful, or do you feel it won’t result in any action?
I think we need a single, simple point of contact for any individual wishing to protect their privacy from unwanted calls, texts, faxes and emails. What I want to know is whether you think that would help. Would you be willing to register to ‘opt-out’ of calling lists if that could guarantee your privacy? Do you think that having a one-stop shop for such issues would make it easier for people to make complaints the companies that consistently pester you?
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Mike Crockart, MP for Edinburgh West. All opinions expressed here are Mike’s own, not necessarily those of Which?.