Three years since UK’s Information Communication Office has been given the power to impose a fine of up to £500,000, only two firms have been prosecuted so far. This is the situation despite the staggering increase in the number of complaints received between April and October last year, totalling to 100,000 – a far cry from the 30,000 reports in 2012.
One of these companies is First Financial, which was fined £175,000 after sending millions of spam texts to promote its website using unregistered sim cards.
ICO Commissioner said that the reason for this low number of companies being charged is because based on the existing law, ICO should first prove that the call or text is causing „substantial distress“ to people rather than just meer „annoyance“ before it can issue a penalty.
Due to the public’s greater awareness of its online report tool, ICO has already documented more than 200,000 complaints. This is particularly helpful in its drive for reform in extending the coverage of the law to include annoying and nuisance calls/texts.
Consequently, ICO advised the public to report spam texts to 7726. Ofcom also recommended the no-reply rule to all unknown numbers. Residents can also send a report to the network operator or to the ICO Office through www.ico.gov.uk. By registering phone numbers with the Telephone Preference Service through www.tpsonline.org.uk, unwanted sales calls may also be avoided.
On the other hand, a detailed guidance for direct marketers has also been published by the ICO covering rules and regulations for companies carring out marketing over the phone, by text, email, post or by fax.