To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent steps the Department has taken to prevent silent telephone calls by commercial power diallers; and if the Department will support a policy of introducing recorded messages to inform recipients of silent telephone calls of what has happened.
The Department introduced the Telephone Preference Service scheme, under the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999, which provides protection to subscribers from unsolicited direct marketing calls. Although the Telephone Preference Service was not designed to provide a solution to silent calls, consumers who register receive significantly fewer marketing calls, including silent calls that are made by commercial power diallers. Marketing calls are the only calls which are eliminated by registering for this service.
The Communications Act 2003 confers powers on the Office of Communications (Ofcom) to regulate forms of behaviour, which fall within the Act's definition of persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service. Silent calls made by commercial power diallers are an example of behaviour, which might represent persistent misuse. Ofcom took action against two companies on
The Department is in discussions with Ofcom about providing a solution to silent calls and in particular a policy of introducing recorded messages to inform recipients of silent calls of what has happened. We will carefully consider all aspects of this possible solution.