Parliament reports on nuisance calls

The Culture Media and Sport Committee have published their report on nuisance calls. It recommends a series of baby steps to tackle the problem.

The long-awaited Culture Media and Sport Committee report on Nuisance Telephone Calls has been published.

The report was produced in light of the increasing problem of nuisance calls, with the reported numbers of nuisance calls peaking at 35,000 in March this year.

It was hoped that the measures in the report would tackle the problem head on. Yet its contents have been a disappointment to many who feel that it only skims the surface of the problem.

The report outlines the following recommendations:

  • Ofcom and the Information Commissioners Office should take action against nuisance callers and use its powers more often.
  • Dismissal of calls for a single regulator, a complete ban on cold calling and a fixed duration for consent.
  • Clarification of the rules on consent and the handling of data.
  • Greater use of call tracing facilities by telephone companies.
  • Serious consideration to be given to the role of the TPS, following an Ofcom / ICO review of its effectiveness.
  • Greater use of powers to impose penalties and other action likely to discourage breaches of regulations.

Whilst these changes do mark a positive step forward in the ongoing battle against nuisance calls, many feel that they have not gone far enough.

The Fair Telecoms Campaign, who have long advocated change in this area, have outlined some areas where they feel the report has fallen short:

  • The failure to recommend establishment of an agency independent of the regulators to channel reports of nuisance calls and to represent the interests of citizens and consumers in pressing for action.
  • The Committee advises that consumers should not respond to certain types of direct-marketing calls, but fails to recommend that the relevant regulators simply prohibit use of telemarketing as a means of securing business.
  • The inappropriate focus on use of CLI – caller display and 1471 – continues. This is a valuable facility, but of limited use. Those who wish to withhold their identity can and do provide a false or worthless number.
David Hickson

David Hickson

“The report notes the failure of the current regulatory regime, much of which is inherent in the essential nature of the bodies involved. It also fails to recognise that this demands a radically new approach,” said David Hickson of The Fair Telecoms Campaign.

One area where there may be some progress is in the ability to complain about silent calls.

The report recommends that “There should be a single nuisance calls helpline to which individuals should be directed. We suggest that this helpline should be prominently displayed on all telephone bills. The helpline could be staffed by individuals from either Ofcom, the ICO or both”.

In the meanwhile, if you would like to complain about a nuisance call you can fill in the ICO complaint form.

Published On: 11th Dec 2013 - Last modified: 12th Dec 2018
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