Silent Calls

In February 2009 the Panel received an update on Ofcom's consumer policy work, including its work to tackle silent calls.

In January 2010 the Panel had also responded to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) consultation on raising the maximum penalty for the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service to tackle the problem of silent and abandoned calls to consumers.  The Panel argued that silent and abandoned calls continue to cause significant harm to consumers and supported an increase in the maximum penalty to £2 million.

In March 2010 BIS published its closing statement, announcing that the maximum penalty would be increased from £50,000 to £2 million and that the Government proposed to amend the maximum penalty in the Communications Act 2003 by statutory instrument as soon as possible. The changes came into effect in September 2010.

In June 2010 Ofcom updated the Panel on its work on silent calls and in July 2010 the Panel responded to Ofcom's consultation on tackling abandoned and silent calls. The Panel supported Ofcom's proposal to amend the 2008 Statement of Policy to tackle repeat abandoned and silent calls, imposing a 24 hour no call-back policy. The Panel stressed that this change should take place within the context of a rigorous enforcement programme to tackle any cases of malicious misuse. In addition, the Panel urged Ofcom to monitor the effectiveness of the amendment, taking further action to address the problem if repeat silent calls remain at a high level, either among all consumers or among more vulnerable consumers.

In October 2010 Ofcom published its response to the submissions to its consultation, saying that it would make changes to the 2008 Statement of Policy, including a 24 hour call-back policy. The new rules came into force in February 2011. 

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