The Information Commissioner has made good on a promise made a year ago to make the most of a new law designed to make it easier to crack down on nuisance marketing.

Since the change in the law was introduced, the ICO has issued fines totalling more than £2 million compared with just £360,000 during the previous 12 months.

This week the ICO will fine a Scottish firm for making 2.5 million recorded calls in an effort to sell its home improvement services. It will be the 19th firm the regulator has taken action against since April 2015 and brings the tally of penalties for nuisance marketing to £2,035,000.

The law change in April last year made it easier for the ICO to fine firms behind nuisance calls, texts and emails. The companies the ICO has fined have been behind 55 million nuisance calls, more than a million text messages and hundreds of thousands of emails.

The fines range from a £5,000 penalty issued to an MP who made recorded calls as part of an election campaign to a record £350,000 fine for a firm that made 40 million nuisance calls.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said:

“This time last year we promised that these changes to the law would make a difference, and they have. The fines we’ve issued should mean fewer calls next year.

“But we know there’s more to do. We’ve got more fines in the pipeline, and more ways to stop the nuisance these calls create.

“The law change put forward today around caller ID is another step forward. We know that people are more likely to complain to us when they can see the number behind the call they’ve received. Those complaints inform many of our investigations, lead to fines and, ultimately, stop the calls.”

Unwanted calls, texts and emails can be reported via our online reporting tools or by calling 0303 123 1113.

Notes to editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000, Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  4. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
    • fairly and lawfully processed;
    • processed for limited purposes;
    • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
    • accurate and up to date;
    • not kept for longer than is necessary;
    • processed in line with your rights;
    • secure; and
    • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  5. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications.
    1. There are specific rules on:
      • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
      • cookies (and similar technologies);
      • keeping communications services secure; and
      • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.
    2. We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.
  6. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
  7. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  8. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns/