Watchdog now has more power to tackle spam text messages

New rules that tackle those companies which ignore good practice when it comes to text message marketing have come into force this week.

The Information Commissioner watchdog now has more powers to fine companies that send unsolicited text messages known as spam, reports sky.com.

Until now the authorities had to prove that the recipient had suffered substantial damage or distress before action could be taken. The new rules, which were announced last month but come into practice today, allow the ICO to implement fines just by proving that the company has broken the law.

By removing the threshold the government has made it much easier for the watchdog to stem the tide of nuisance calls and unwanted text messages that damage the reputation of the direct marketing industry.

Alastair Shortland, CEO and founder of Textlocal explains that companies have nothing to fear if they stick to the rules: “The law hasn’t changed to anything other than enforcing that proper spammers can be fined without having to prove that ‘significant distress’ has been caused”.

Last year more than 175,000 complaints were made to the ICO about nuisance calls and texts, but few prosecutions went through, notes guardian.com. Information Commissioner Christopher Graham says: “We’ve been pushing for this change for two years and we’re sure it will make a difference.

“The change will help us make more fines stick and more fines should prove a real deterrent to the people making these calls.”