From Spring 2017, the ICO will have the power to issue fines of up to £500,000 to an individual director of an organisation for nuisance calls. Whilst businesses can currently be fined by the ICO for breach of the PEC Regulations, many businesses avoid paying the fines by entering into liquidation.
In a statement in response to the new plans, the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said that it will stop directors responsible from “ducking away from fines by putting their company into liquidation. It will stop them leaving by the back door as the Regulator comes through the front door”.
In light of these increased powers, it is likely we will see an increase in the fines being issued by the ICO. Only last month, a Hampshire company made the news headlines for being fined one of the highest fines issued by the ICO for nuisance calls- £270,000 for making 22 million nuisance calls. Other fines issued recently by the ICO included Flybe and Honda, for breaching PEC Regulations on marketing. Flybe had deliberately sent over 3 million emails to people who had specifically said they did not want to receive marketing emails, and Honda had sent 289,790 emails to clarify certain customers’ choices for receiving marketing. The two companies have been fined a total of £83,000 for breaching the PEC Regulations.
It is clear the ICO is currently doing everything within its power to protect individuals from nuisance calls, but the direction the ICO’s heading is clear from this statement by the head of enforcement, Steve Eckersley, “from next May, a new data protection law will give people even stronger rights around consent giving them genuine choice and control over how their data will be used”.