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UK Data Overhaul Could Mean Clampdown on Nuisance Calls and Texts

Graham Turner


UK data overhaul
A 10-week consultation will come as part of sweeping changes to the Information Commissioners Office’s M.O.

Nuisance calls and texts, as well as over-zealous cookie pop-ups are in the crosshairs as part of the UK Government’s consultation on the “data landscape”.

As it stands, the ICO fines for nuisance communications is relatively toothless, with fines only going up to £500,000.

This is a far cry from General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has a top penalty of £17.5 million or 4% of annual global turnover. Ministers are hoping to bring punitive action against nuisance calls text more in line with the GDPR framework.

The announcement of the 10-week consultation follows outgoing ICO Chief Executive, Elizabeth Denham’s, recent virtual meeting with G7 countries to discuss collaboration on changing the rules around cookie consent pop-ups.

Regarding the upcoming review, Denham said: “People’s personal data is used in ever more novel ways; it is right that government looks to ensure a legislative framework that is fit for the future.”

Currently, the ICO deals with over 65,000 calls a year with regards to data protection. Dealing with as many of these as possible on an equal footing is being seen as misuse of resources. Moving forward, there’s hope that serious cases will be given priority.


In a statement, a spokesperson said the government wants to “remove unnecessary barriers to responsible data use”.

They added: “This can help deliver more agile, effective and efficient public services and further strengthen the UK’s position as a science and technology superpower.

“Far from being a barrier to innovation or trade, regulatory certainty and high data protection standards allow businesses and consumers to thrive.”

The planned ICO overhaul would align more closely with other regulators such as Ofcom and the FCA as it seeks to add an independent board and Chief Executive.

Discussing the planned changes, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden, said: “These reforms will keep people’s data safe and secure, while ushering in a new golden age of growth and innovation right across the UK, as we build back better from the pandemic.”

Graham Turner

Sub Editor

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