Last week, the government indicated that they will not heed demands for a blanket ban on cold calls. The personal injury reforms are due to be debated in Parliament this week, when the Association of British Insurers and Association of Personal Injury Lawyers meet to discuss potential reforms.
Currently, solicitors are banned from making unsolicited calls to members of the public in order to generate claims – but there are companies who fall outside of this remit who can then sell the data on. A number of practitioner groups are calling for these companies to be subject to the same ban.
Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald has said that this ban would not be effective, as most of the companies that the ban would seek to apply to are illegal, unregulated businesses. Therefore, he says, a ban would have little impact.
Instead, he said that regulators are working together to combat illegal activity.
Cold calls have the ability to perpetuate the so-called compensation culture, whilst also being a nuisance to members of the public. These are two of the reasons put forward by the practitioner groups in favour of a ban that applies to all data handling companies, whether legal or illegal, regulated or unregulated. It would provide for an extra level of protection for consumers by creating another net with which to catch rule-breakers.
Of course one reason that the insurers have put forward against cold-calling (although not in such terms) is the amount of money to be made from selling data, often by the insurance companies. This raises concerns about consumer rights from the Data Protection Act, which could even encourage the packaging and sale of consumer data, largely by sharing their contact details.