The Department for Culture, Media & Sport are consulting on plans to introduce compulsory IDs for marketing firms in a bid to reduce nuisance calls. Around 20% of live and automated direct marketing calls reported to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) as nuisance calls did not provide a valid caller ID.

The planned changes will:

  • Make it easier for people to refuse and report unwanted calls;
  • Make it easier for the ICO to investigate and act against persistent rule breakers.

Minister for data protection, Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE, said:

“Being pestered by marketing calls is annoying at the best of times and at its worst it can bring real misery for the people on the receiving end. There is no simple solution to the problem of nuisance calls, but making direct marketing companies display their telephone number will help consumers and regulators take action.

"Companies are already being financially punished when they blatantly flout the rules, and mandatory caller ID is just another step we are taking as part of a closely coordinated effort with regulators, industry and consumer groups to tackle the problem."

Responding to the plans, ICO Head of Enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said:

"When people are able to identify the number behind the call they’ve received, they’re more likely to complain to us and we’re more able to take action."  

This response from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport comes in the wake of a series of fines issued by the ICO in relation to nuisance calls and messages. The most recent of which was issued against the Telegraph Media Group for sending a mass email communication out to thousands of people promoting the Conservative Party on the day of the last general election. The Telegraph Media Group was reportedly fined £30,000. The frequency and amount of these types of fines is on the increase and this reflects the sharp stance the ICO is taking when it comes to direct marketing. A substantial amount of time, investigation and resource is being undertaken by the ICO as seen in the reports it issued back in December 2015 which provide useful insight into this 'area of concern'.  In these reports the ICO has identified that most live nuisance calls concerned accident claims whereas automated nuisance calls concerned PPI.

To read the consultation, which closes on 23 February, please click here