Government plans crackdown on spam SMS messages

Genuine text marketing is set for a PR boost, after the government announced it is cracking down on companies that bombard people with spam text messages and give the industry a bad name.

More than 175,000 complaints were made to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) regarding nuisance calls and texts in 2014, reports It comes after a Which? survey revealed that a third of people feel intimidated by such texts. Spam text messages and cold calls are becoming more common too – one billion unwanted communications are received by Brits every year.

From April 6, the ICO will no longer have to prove the spam messages caused substantial damage or distress in order to fine guilty firms, which could then be subject to a fine of up to £500,000. Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has previously called the current law “a licence for spammers and scammers”.

Although reputable firms have legally obtained the mobile phone numbers they send messages to, many others are simply running scams, reports

Ed Vaizey, digital economy minister, noted the ICO is aware of which companies are legitimate and which are “cowboys”, so the new law will simply make it easier to prosecute those in the wrong.

“At the moment if the Information Commissioner goes after a company, he’s got to show the company has caused you – the consumer at home – serious distress, serious harm,” he explained. “It’s a very high test to pass which is why there have only been nine prosecutions, which is why we want to lower that test.”