Following multi-industry consultation, Ofcom have issued a revised statement of policy on the persistent misuse of an electronic communications network or service.Policy changes are set to go live on the 1st March 2017.
Main changes are centred on the inclusion of ‘Agent Behaviour’ and their determination to reduce/eliminate ‘Silent and Abandoned Calls’ and ‘Repeated Misuse’ and is set to alter the outbound dialling landscape.
Ofcom has proceeded with the removal of reference to the 3% abandoned call rate, noting that it had unintentionally been seen as a threshold:
“Where evidence shows behaviour is harmful and falls within the statutory definition, it is unlawful. We cannot create safe harbours allowing a certain amount of that conduct or unlawfully fetter our discretion to take action. The view held by respondents that the 3% abandoned call rate set out in the 2010 policy created a safe harbor is incorrect. Rather, it reflected a criterion for prioritising cases for action.”
They go on to say;
“...we will apply the statutory definitions of both persistence and misuse on a case-by-case basis, taking account of the ordinary meaning of the words.”
It is also made clear that organisations must ensure that they have systems and controls in place to ensure misuse is minimised (by themselves or any third party working on their behalf). They define persistence misuse as;
“Misuse is persistent where it is repeated enough for it to be clear that it represents a pattern of behaviour or practice, or recklessness about whether others suffer the relevant kinds of harm.”
“Calling parties should not make silent or abandoned calls. Ofcom considers both to be misuses, but that silent calls are likely to be an even more harmful type because less information about the call (such as the caller’s identity) is provided to the recipient and because the nature of the call may mean the recipient considers it to be threatening or malicious.”
Ofcom note that they are more likely to regard misuse as persistent where there is evidence that it occurred;
“...at levels greater than could reasonably be attributed to factors such as accidental human error, isolated agent misbehavior or one-off technical errors”.
This is a very brief synopsis. Please refer to https://www.ofcom.org.uk/ for more information.
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