From 16 May, those making (or instigating) direct marketing telephone calls must provide Caller Line Identification (‘CLI’) when making calls live or through automated means. The display of their telephone numbers to consumers has the effect of making it easier for consumers to refuse and/or report unwanted marketing calls.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/524) (‘Amendment’) which introduces the change applies to solicited or unsolicited live direct marketing telephone calls from any UK registered company, regardless of the fact that call centres may be based abroad.

Both the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’) and Ofcom will investigate and take enforcement action against those who fail to comply. The ICO may impose penalties of up to £500,000 for failure to comply, and where Ofcom determines that the direct marketers’ activities constitute ‘persistent misuse of electronic communications networks or electronic communications services’ (under the Communications Act 2003), it may impose penalties of up to £2,000,000.

The Amendment was introduced in response to a public consultation instigated by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport. The consultation, which gathered opinions and comments on whether direct marketing callers should be required to provide CLI, received strong support. This crackdown on ‘nuisance calls’ is far-reaching – the resulting Amendment is expected to affect approximately 2000 organisations.