The Queen announced a Digital Economy Bill in her speech in May 2016. Although the Bill is mainly intended to improve internet connectivity and provide improved protections for internet users, it also aims at protecting citizens in the digital economy by way of a new statutory code of practice for direct marketing, ensuring the Information Commissioner can better enforce sanctions against nuisance callers and spammers and that consent is obtained from consumers
In relation to nuisance calls the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/2426) already requires companies to display their caller ID and working to provide call blocking devices to vulnerable members of society. But this has not been enough. According to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), £2.26 million of penalties for nuisance calls issued since April 2015 remain unpaid out of more than £2.7 million penalties issued. Many limited liability companies try to avoid the fines by declaring bankruptcy, only to re-emerge subsequently under a new name.
The government has now announced that it will amend in spring 2017 to introduce personal liability for directors for nuisance call fines. The amendment will allow the ICO to issue fines of up to £500,000 to each company director for nuisance calls. If a company has multiple directors then each could be liable for a fine.
From Spring 2017, firm directors can each be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office, if they are found to be in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Prior to this, only businesses were liable for fines, many of which try to escape paying nuisance call penalties by declaring bankruptcy - only to open up again under a different name. But in a move to tackle this issue, Government is providing the ICO with powers to hold company directors directly responsible.