The Information Commissioner’s Office has said that there has been a 43% increase in the amount of complaints about unsolicited electronic marketing and spam in the UK. In the year to March the ICO received almost 8,000 complaints. None of the cases, however, have resulted in fines for the guilty companies.
In January the ICO was given the power to fine companies for significant offences up to £500,000. In the past they have found it difficult to gain the necessary information from providers of telecommunications to enable them to investigate spam calls and texts sufficiently. Because of their new powers they are able to identify which companies are responsible.
Several companies believed to be linked with sending spam texts have already been identified due to the new powers. The ICO was created to help the public to understand their personal data, whilst protecting it. They instigated a web-based complaints form so that consumers would find it easier to report their concerns.
Of the complaints received 35% were related to automated telephone calls, 29% for unwanted text messages, 19% related to live phone calls and 14% were about email. Of all the complaints, only 11% were considered viable to investigate, an annual report revealed
Sixty per cent of the complaints were classed as ‘made to early, or ‘ineligible’. In 27% of the cases enforcement was not recommended. Many in this category, say the ICO would be informally resolved, perhaps by removing the complainant’s information from the database of the marketing company.
The ICO sent some of the companies ‘stop’ notices, but they would not confirm the number of letters sent or the success rate of them. There are some ongoing cases and the ICO claim that if evidence is found of companies breaching regulations action will be taken.