David Hickson's Silent Calls Victim Blog

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Thursday, 22 July 2010

The House of Lords discusses Silent Calls

The proposal by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to increase the maximum penalty available to Ofcom, in connection with its powers to act against persistent misuse of a telecommunications network or service, to £2 Million pounds has to be discussed and approved by both Houses of Parliament.

The discussion in the Commons will (almost certainly) not take place until after the Summer recess, as the committee to do this has not yet been appointed.

The discussion in the Lords, and the inevitable approval took place on 21 July - see Hansard.

The peers who contributed were not properly briefed and so had little grasp of the issues. Key facts about the long history of Ofcom's failure to address the problem of Silent Calls were not mentioned, the nature of the relevant powers was misrepresented both in a technical and a practical sense by the Minister and other contributors had clearly misunderstood what is actually addressed by the powers.

As so often with this issue, anyone is ready to support action that seems to be doing something about unwanted telephone calls. Ofcom trades heavily on this natural support for whatever it may propose, to gain approval for its wholly wrong and improper approach to the issue.

When MPs come to discuss this proposed increase, and implicit endorsement of Ofcom's policy, they will be most throughly briefed and lobbied.

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