Regulatory responsibility for tackling nuisance calls spans a number of organisations.
However, the primary responsibilities fall to Ofcom and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). Specifically:
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) takes the lead in tackling live telesales calls, automated marketing message calls and spam texts. It also has responsibility for maintaining the list of telephone numbers of people and businesses that wish to opt out of receiving unsolicited live marketing calls or unsolicited marketing faxes. The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) maintains those registers on behalf of ICO. The ICO is responsible for taking enforcement action to ensure that direct marketing calls are not made to telephone numbers included on the TPS register without prior consent
Ofcom’s regular research into nuisance calls measures the frequency of the nuisance calls UK consumers receive on their home landline phone. We gather real-time data about these types of calls, including the date, time and duration of nuisance calls, and a full description of the experience; i.e. the company/person calling, what the call was about, and whether the caller’s telephone number was identifiable.
Ofcom conducts tracker omnibus surveys. Ofcom asks participants to report, for a four-week period prior to the survey, their experience of nuisance calls received on their landline and/or mobile phones. Currently, Ofcom conducts this research three times a year, in January, May, and September. The reports are published on our annual statistical release calendar.
Ofcom has powers under sections 128 to 130 of the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”) to take action, including issuing financial penalties, against anyone who persistently misuses an electronic communications network or service in any way that causes or is likely to cause unnecessary annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.
We also have an ongoing monitoring and enforcement investigation programme into the harm caused by abandoned and silent calls, and publish updates on our formal enforcement work in the Competition and Consumer Enforcement Bulletin.
Ofcom has established a Memorandum of Understanding with nine major communications providers. This sets out a framework for voluntary co-operation on technical measures between the participating organisations, including how they will work together to achieve the common goal of reducing the impact of unlawful nuisance calls on consumers.