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DMA and ICO update to TPS system

New changes will ensure the service is as up-to-date as possible

Today the DMA and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) can announce new updates to how the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is run and kept up-to-date. Responsibility for the TPS moved from Ofcom to the ICO last year and as a result discussions on possible improvements to the service have been had, including new ways to ensure the data it holds is as accurate as possible and the removal of inactive numbers. 

The TPS was originally created in 1997, but Government legislation brought it into law in 1999. However, the original processes put in place two decades ago didn't take into account the volume of numbers now in circulation or the rate at which these can change users, which brought challenges in keeping the service up-to-date.

When the TPS was first launched the main telecoms operator in the UK was BT, which would provide a list of cessation numbers each month to be removed from the TPS as they were no longer in use. However, over the last 20 years BT's share of the landline market has reduced and the number mobile providers have grown too. Coupled with changes to BT's systems called for by both Government and Ofcom, the volume of numbers supplied to TPS has steadily decreased. This has led to a noticeable volume of numbers remaining registered with the TPS, despite them potentially having changed hands or actually being inactive. The law allows people to remove their numbers from the TPS themselves, but sometimes numbers will become inactive for many reasons.

When the ICO inherited the service from Ofcom, the team involved in the running of the service took the opportunity to review and implement new ways to keep the data up-to-date. The ICO agreed with the DMA that an ongoing process to ensure the removal of inactive and invalid numbers would improve the service; making the data more effective to manage and to use for enforcement purposes.

John Mitchison, Director of Compliance and Legal at the DMA, said: “The telephonic world the TPS was originally created for has changed dramatically and we've long wanted to implement some changes to the way TPS is run. We're excited to be undertaking these with the support of the ICO. Accurately identify numbers that are not in use and removing these from the TPS will ensure that the data it holds is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.”

Hear more from the DMA