Calls From Automatic Calling Equipment Ofcom Advice - Birchills Blog
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Calls From Automatic Calling Equipment

Robot illustates Calls From Automatic Calling Equipment - Power diallers

This is the Ofcom guidance on Calls From Automatic Calling Equipment, often called power diallers.

The information was originally generated by OfTel the predecessor to OfCom, before being filed away from view. We have slightly annotated the information in green italic to indicate where information is no longer available. We believe the guidance is valuable and that is why we have reproduced it in full below.


KEY POINTS

If Automatic Calling Equipment is used for marketing - this is "OPT IN" - complaints to DMA and Information Commissioner (IC)

If Automatic Calling Equipment is not used for marketing - this falls under the 'persistent misuse' sections of the Communications Act 2003 ("the Act"). The Act gives powers to the Director General of Telecommunications and later to Ofcom to take action against persons who misuse networks or services in a way that causes unnecessary annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety. In the first instance you should write to the company (see sample letter) telling them to stop.

DETAIL

The regulation of the use of automatic calling equipment is dependent upon the use to which it is put:-

USE RELATES TO DIRECT MARKETING

If use relates to direct marketing then the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999 ("the 1999 Regulations") apply. The Regulations implement part of the European Telecoms Data Protection Directive (Directive 97/66/EC).
 
On 11 December 2003, The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 will revoke the 1999 Regulations. Therefore, from 11 December if use relates to direct marketing then the new Regulations will apply. These new Regulations implement the European Directive on privacy and electronic communications (Directive 2002/58/EC).

The 1999 Regulations state that automatic calling equipment may only be used for direct marketing when the called party has previously consented to receive such calls. Enforcement of the regulations is the responsibility of the Information Commissioner (IC). Where they find that there has been a breach of the Regulations, the IC has the power to issue an Enforcement Notice against the company concerned. Should the company concerned breach the terms of that Enforcement Notice, the IC has the power to impose a fine.

If consumers are concerned about receiving telesales calls or faxes for direct marketing purposes of any description, then our advice is to contact the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) who has been appointed to run a telesales opt-out scheme and a fax opt-out scheme on behalf of Oftel. The schemes contain details of those individuals who do not wish to receive unsolicited telesales calls and faxes.

The opt out schemes are called the Telephone Preference Service and the Fax Preference Service respectively, and supersede a previous voluntary scheme run by the DMA. You can enrol with the TPS and the FPS by contacting the DMA on 0845 070 0707 (Lo-call rate) or via the TPS website at: www.tpsonline.org.uk/tpsr/html/default.asp and the FPS website at: www.fpsonline.org.uk
USE DOES NOT RELATE TO DIRECT MARKETING

If automatic calling equipment is being used to initiate calls other than for direct marketing purposes, then use of such equipment may constitute 'persistent misuse' under sections 128-131 of the Act, which apply to every provider of public electronic communications networks and public electronic communications services.

Under the Act Oftel and later Ofcom have the power to take action against any person who misuse networks or services in a way that causes unnecessary annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety. Before contacting Oftel, however, we recommend that - if you are able to identify the company concerned - you write to the company (see our sample letter not available) and post it by recorded delivery so you have proof that the company has received your request. Give the company a few weeks to remove your number from its diallers. If after that time you continue to receive calls from the company you can contact us (click here if you want to contact Oftel inoperative) and we will look into the matter.

If you are unable to identify the company, you can ask for assistance from the section within your telephone company that deals with nuisance and malicious calls. If your telephone company is able to identify the company you can then carry out the process outlined above.
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