Time To Draw The Line? UK Muses Bill That Could Prohibit 'Non-Consensual' Cold Calling

The UK government is currently considering following other countries' lead and introducing radical consumer protection measures with regard to coldcalling.

Online PR News – 18-November-2013 – London – It's a time of flux in the telemarketing world: laws are changing internationally and indeed, some countries are forging long distance alliances to crack down on tele-tormenters. Since 2010, German citizens have had to specifically opt in to receive marketing calls and telemarketing companies are now legally obliged to display their caller ID. Meanwhile in the US, October 16th saw revisions to the Federal Communication Commission's Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) come into force, forbidding telemarketers to solicit using autodiallers or prerecorded messages without the express written consent of the phone-owner. This 'express written consent' is, albeit, something of a misnomer, including „permission obtained via an email, web site form, text message, telephone keypress, or voice recording“. Nonetheless, it is a bold and effective move in the fight against coldcall harassment and the tough financial punitive measures ($500-$1500 penalties per call or text) are proving a strong deterrent.

The UK, meanwhile, has yet to see such a measure come into effect. With those who have signed up to the TPS (about 75% of UK landlines) often reporting receiving double the amount of sales calls received by those who aren't, British phone owners are starting to lose faith in regulators' capacity to keep 'direct marketers' in line.

However, there is a ray of hope; the House of Lords are currently backing a bill which would see the UK go one step further than the USA and outlaw unsolicited calls and texts altogether. The Unsolicited Telephone Communications Bill has been provisionally passed and is to be submitted for a second reading. This strict set of regulations would mean that all telemarketers would have to gain the consent of their 'marketees' before calling, something of a challenge considering the vehemence with which forum users talk about telemarketers.

The regulation itself would be centralised and overseen by Ofcom, a gargantuan task necessitaing much closer surveillance than is currently, by all accounts, in effect. Moreover, such a drastic measure, as Lord Gardiner of Kimble notes, could be disastrous for the direct marketing industry. These are significant considerations which may regrettably cause the bill to stutter.

The APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) on Nuisance Calls are nonetheless pushing for change; be it a wholesale ban on unsolicited calls, or an enforcement of the current regulations, the winds of change may yet be whistling through the realms of coldcalling.

In the meantime, be sure to arm yourself by looking up unknown numbers on reverse search service sites such as tellows, reporting rogue or pest callers to Ofcom and the ICO and second-guessing the implausible claims an opportunist scam caller may make.

Your phone line is your own! May others respect it.

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