We need a formula that reflects the damage.
If we say that a phone call, even if it only lasts a minute, breaks the concentration of the victim and wastes say, 10 mins of their time, then the fine should be 10 mins x living wage (£8.50/hr?) = £1.40 per call.
So, in this case, about £106 million.
It's the only language these scum understand...
Easy way to collect the fines
Arrest the company directors and keep them in custody until they pay the fine. If they refuse or hold out for more than a month, send them to prison for one month for every day the payment is overdue. If they still refuse then send them down for life, freeze their business and personal accounts, seize all available assets and auction them off. Anything tucked away in tax havens should be pursued using reciprocal agreements with the host country (or conversely the threat of trade embargoes). Assets held in trust or signed away to a spouse should also be fair game, as this is another well recognised avoidance gambit.
Like most government bodies that claim to be tough on corporate violators, they need to grow a pair and learn the true meaning of the word "tough".
Re: Fair fine?
> It's the only language these scum understand...
There is apparently another language that is (universally) understood.
Once upon a time a Russian spammer, spamming Russians, spammed at least one wrong Russian. The news reports about the response included the phrase "execution style".
Re: Easy way to collect the fines
I sometimes think China has the right idea for the company directors: firing squad. I remember a couple of big fraud cases in China were the senior management was not only convicted but executed. Might make you think twice.
How would you like to be contacted?
- phone / email / SMS / smoke signals / carrier pigeon (please state African or European)
How often would you like to be contacted?
- monthly / weekly / daily / within the Planck time
Do you accept that we will use your details in any way we want?
- Yes / Yes
Fined 0.5p per call
At 0.5p per call, the expense of the fine (if ever paid) is a modest part of the cost structure of such a business: even if you only get one lead for every thousand calls, that is only £5 per lead. If we can't prevent operations like this at the outset, then the fine needs to be high enough to make it uneconomic. ICO seem a soft touch!
Re: Fined 0.5p per call
ICO seem a soft touch!
ICO operate within a strict legal framework that limits how much they can fine people, AND there's an established "methodology" for regulatory fines that would mean if the ICO zapped everybody with the current maximum £500k penalty on the basis that it ought to be higher, it would be easy to successfully challenge in court.
The essential problem is that the government have acted like slugs over all data protection issues, have deferred to the EU rather than whacking in a decent framework of their own, haven't fixed the loophole of disposable companies (despite promising to), and the various regulators and enforcers (OFCOM, TPS. ASA, Insolvency Service, even police, CPS etc) don't work together to ensure that offending directors and managers are barred, fined and if need be imprisoned.
I'd also have thought the ICO should not send their own "cease and desist" type of warning shots, but get courts orders to the same effect. Then the repeat offenders and those who ignore the warning are in contempt of court, and could be treated accordingly.
Send the Managing Director(s) to jail.
They've clearly ignored regulations and attempted to evade any penalties by closing the company - demonstrating awareness of their wrongdoing.
Prison time and forfeiture of assets seems the only way to get the message through.
(I may have started 2018 angry)
Re: Jail time
"Send the Managing Director(s) to jail."
Managing director is just s couple of words - I don't think it's a legally defined term so best to avoid it.
But there is provision for directors' liabilities within the new DP Bill. See section 117 at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2017-2019/0066/lbill_2017-20190066_en_12.htm#pt7-pb4-l1g177
it is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of or to be attributable to neglect on the part of a director, manager, secretary or similar officer of the body corporate, or a person who was purporting to act in such a capacity. The director, manager, secretary, officer or person, as well as the body corporate, is guilty of the offence and liable to be proceeded against and
The provision is there, let's hope it will be used.
We need two things:
A mechanism for recipients to charge a handling fee from the callers' telecoms accounts. The telecoms companies would, of course, have to protect themselves by managing the callers' credit which might in itself be sufficient to choke off the entire business model.
The other would be to give the ICO the power for a pre-emptive strike to freeze a company's bank account so that fines couldn't be evaded.
"The calls would likely go through much cheaper ... foreign VOIP providers"
They eventually land with a local telecom company for the last leg. That company knows who to bill. Even if it passes through a number of companies they should still know who to bill. The last one who fails to record where the call came from is left holding the baby. If it's a pre-paid SIM then they need to debit the SIM PDQ. At present telecoms companies are making money out of the racket, they need to share the risk.
The likely result of even looking seriously at this would be likely to result in telecoms companies tightening up - they wouldn't want to undertake the cost of S/W development to handle business which would be liable to dry up.
Currently one recorded call comes through on a number that presents as "019..." On closer inspection it is then flagged as "International" with the number as secondary information. Don't know how that quirk is created in the CLI display. Presumably the number is not their real one - just a way to defeat anti-coldcall barriers.
They are apparently flogging double glazing - so there has to be a culpable UK company behind the calls. The same goes for the "oven cleaning" one.
This is the solution ^^^
These companies are ringing you because they're trying to sell something. Whether it's some kind of personal injury lawyer, or a double glazing company, somewhere there's a real company that's trying to get sales leads.
Come down hard on the company that is being advertised and soon the spammer's business will dry up.
That's less than half a penny per call. That's a real deterant, they should be able to first fine the company any turn over created from those calls, and then a decent punative rate per call. How about £1 per call ? So that would be £75 million plus any money taken as a result of those calls?
Re: No Collection?
I have a company
Scummy Tw*ts Ltd
Also registered is
Scummy Tw*ts UK Ltd
The first company gets the fine then goes into to liquidation, the second company owned by my partner then comes in like a knight in shining armour to take over the rental of my offices and takes on the staff. Praise be the company is saved.
Rinse and repeat Ad infinitum.
Re: I wish
I've taken to agreeing to the telemarketer sending out someone to appraise the property in prep for installing whatever it is they're selling. I then give them the address to my local police station. Let the bugger whom shows up explain to the cops why they're there, whom they're employed by, & *exactly* how they got told to show up at that particular address.
I'm posting this as AC because the robocallers have yet to figure out it's my number they call that prompts the arrests. *Cackle*
The ICO also noted as an aggravating factor that the firm had failed to engage in the investigation.
The director has also attempted to have the biz struck off the Companies House register – a move that the ICO said it had blocked.
Sounds like this is another company that goes under within a month of being fined only for another company to pop into existence. It's a merry go round.
Why have we not got MPs demanding that the networks log all calls from these criminals so they can be tracked and prosecuted properly (not just the ICO)?
Many MPs seem to believe it is a simple task to log and record all the public's communications at the network, so surely it must be simple to log this traffic too?
A more suitable punishment would be to make it law that the company directors mobile and home phones must be made public and passed to everyone that received a call from their company. They are also not allowed to change those numbers and must answer at least 500 calls a day for 6 months between the hours which their company made calls. This can be checked using mystery shoppers from the ICO and if they deviate they automatically serve 3 months in jail.
Ofcom is to blame
Why doesn't the utterly useless Ofcom insist that all telcos make 1477 (Automatic Call Trace) available free of charge to all subscribers, together with Anonymous Call Reject and Caller Display ?
Dialling 1477 during or after a nuisance call is far quicker than laboriously messing around trying to report them to the ICO's website, which is obviously a waste of time when the number has been withheld or spoofed. 1477 isn't fooled by any of this, it stores the REAL originating number at the victim's exchange for subsequent investigative action.
But most telcos have never heard of 1477 and don't make it available, and as usual Ofcom the toothless watchdog is still happily dozing in front of the fire.
Re: Ofcom is to blame
"Anonymous Call Reject and Caller Display ?"
The problem there is so many people you need to call you still use number withheld, eg Schools, NHS, etc., which can affect the most vulnerable people the most if blocks. Likewise, Call Display doesn't often help because even calls coming from out of country will present what appears to be a local, usually invalid, number at worst, at best, something that looks very like a UK number.
Re: Ofcom is to blame
Agreed, Caller Display isn't a magic bullet, but call blocking hardware won't work without it. Anonymous Call Reject is almost a magic bullet because it blocks many unwanted calls without requiring expensive hardware.
The point I'm making is that victims need all the help they can get to block and report fraudulent / nuisance calls, but Ofcom and the ICO are just a waste of space. They shouldn't allow telcos to blackmail vulnerable telephone users into buying expensive network services that cost the telcos nothing to provide.
It's daft that the health service withholds numbers on data protection grounds: when they send letters, the envelope shows the patient's name and shouts NHS all over it, so they clearly haven't thought it through.
To avoid having calls rejected, they should follow BT's good practice and use a Presentation Number that when called says "The NHS tried to call you, but don't worry, we'll call again if necessary". Or if they're really concerned about privacy, it could just say "We tried to call you..." or "Sorry, this number does not accept incoming calls".
A friend of mine had office space in a building which also hosted a scummy marketing company. It was a group of people (I think about 10) who folded their company at the first sign of trouble, usually 12-18 months in, then the next person in the group set up a new company doing the same thing. Even if one of them was banned from being a company director, that only lasts a certain length of time (7 years?) so they were always clear again by the time their turn came back round.
Directors have to be personally liable for criminal acts, and that has to actually be enforced. The current situation is untenable - this company made enough calls to contact everyone in the UK, making the world a worse place, and nothing will be done about it. Again.