British company bosses face big fines for nuisance calls

BY  | FROM  | 2018-05-31 10:39

Bosses of companies in Britain which plague people with unsolicited nuisance telephone calls and text messages could face fines of 500,000 pounds (665,000 U.S. dollars) under new government proposals announced Wednesday.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said new rules would make company owners personally liable if their firms breaks the law.

The British data protection watchdog revealed last week it had recovered 54 percent of the 24 million U.S. dollars in fines issued for nuisance calls since 2010, as companies go into liquidation to avoid paying big penalties.

It follows latest estimates by the telecoms watchdog, Ofcom, which showed that British consumers were bombarded with 3.9 billion nuisance phone calls and texts last year.

A spokesperson for DCMS said: "As it stands, only the businesses themselves are liable for fines and some directors try to escape paying penalties by declaring bankruptcy, only to open up again under a different name. The Insolvency Service can also disqualify people from boardroom positions and failure to adhere to this ruling could lead to a prison sentence."

The new government proposals being consulted on will give the official Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) the powers it needs to hold company directors directly responsible with further fines of up to half a million pounds. If a firm has multiple directors, each could be liable for a fine.

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James said: "Nuisance calls are a blight on society and we are determined to stamp them out. For too long a minority of company directors have escaped justice by liquidating their firms and opening up again under a different name.

"We want to make sure the Information Commissioner has the powers she needs to hold rogue bosses to account and put an end to these unwanted calls."

Steve Wood, Deputy Commissioner at the ICO said: "We welcome proposals to make directors themselves responsible for nuisance marketing.

"We have been calling for a change to the law to deter those who deliberately set out to disrupt people with troublesome calls, texts and emails. These proposed changes will increase the tools we have to protect the public."

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