The ICO received 175,330 reports of nuisance calls and texts from concerned people in 2014, prompting the ICO to call for changes in the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR).

The law changed in 2015 and made it easier for the ICO to issue fines to companies that break the law. Previously, the ICO had to prove that a company caused ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ making nuisance calls or sending spam text messages. But since the law changed in 2015, the ICO just has to prove that the company was committing a serious breach of PECR.

Since 2015 the ICO has issued fines totalling more than £2 million compared with just £360,000 during the previous 12 months. 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 Information Commissioner recently stated: “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 Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications.

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.