A new law that would ban businesses contacting members of the public by telephone – to stop nuisance calls – is being examined by the Telephone Compliance Council (TCC).

The TCC, which represents the interests of businesses that rely on being able to call the public, is set to ask professional trade bodies if they think a ‘consent only’ based law on telephone calling will cause loss of income and jobs.

Spokesperson for the TCC, Nick Rines, says it is believed a broad swathe of consumer service businesses would be hit hard by permission based regulation. It would stop most companies from being able to make telephone contact with the public, including home improvement companies being able to call existing customers and new sales prospects.

Under the current draft of the EU e-Privacy Bill, the only criteria under which companies may call members of the public is through consent, including preventing contacting customers about product and contract expiry dates, upgrades, cross selling and service based reminders. The impact on commerce and employment are thought to be currently disregarded.

Within the draft of the EU e-Privacy Act is a clause that allows governments to choose opt out outbound calling regulation, which the TCC is pushing for. However, there is concern that opt in only regulation will come before government ministers under the Digital Economy Act.

Nick Rines said: “It is important that we understand the full implications of opt in consent regulation, and what the fall-out will be, including the freedom to make calls about upgrades, cross selling, and new prospect calling. There is a lot of concern, particularly among marketing professionals and consumer facing businesses that having to build and maintain a consent database is unfeasible. It would mean that overnight the successful business models of tens of thousands of companies would become untenable.

“This attempt to stop nuisance calls will not solve current problems. The TCC fully supports robust regulation that protects the public from rogue or nuisance callers, but it believes implementing opt in consent rules, which in effect would be a ban on currently legally compliant outbound calling, would leave the field wide open to those pirate callers that would merely expand their activity as they continue to flaunt current or future legislation. The TCC supports the ICO in firmer prosecution of those that transgress the current laws.”