ICO clamps down on nuisance calls, slaps £90k fine on Glasgow firm
Ring, ring. Ring, ring. Give us a roast spud
A Glasgow company that deliberately nagged households with nuisance calls has been fined £90,000 by Britain's data protection watchdog.
DM Design had annoyed the hell out of thousands of people by making nuisance marketing calls to their home telephone numbers.
The Information Commissioner's Office said that the regulator and the Telephone Preference Service had received nearly 2,000 complaints about the outfit.
It was repeatedly found to have made marketing calls without first checking if people on the other end of the telephone had opted out of receiving such messages and only responded to a small number of gripes it received.
The ICO said that DM Design was "in clear breach of the [2003 Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations] law".
It was also apparently found to have employed bizarre tactics against some of the people who had moaned about the calls.
The watchdog noted one incident where a worker at DM Design refused to remove a complainant's details from the firm's system. Instead the employee threatened to "continue to call at more inconvenient times like Sunday lunchtime”.
The ICO said that the £90,000 fine was the first such monetary penalty it had slapped on a nuisance call company for breaching the PECR.
In November last year, the regulator fined two owners of a rogue marketing firm for spamming UK mobiles with millions of texts over the space of three years.
They received a massive £440,000 penalty when the ICO made its first use of new powers gained in to levy heavy fines for serious breaches of the UK's PECR against the two owners of Tetrus Telecoms, Christopher Niebel and Gary McNeish.
And the clampdown on nuisance call outfits will continue, the ICO warned. It said that two other companies have already been told that significant fines could be imposed within the next few weeks for violating the PECR.
It added that 10 other firms were being investigated for cold-calling and sending spam text messages.
"Today’s action sends out a clear message to the marketing industry that this menace will not be tolerated," said Information Commissioner Christopher Graham. "This company showed a clear disregard for the law and a lamentable attitude toward the people whose day they were disturbing. This is not good enough."
The ICO and communications watchdog Ofcom - which is responsible for regulating silent calls - are planning to write a joint open letter to the marketing industry reminding companies that they need to comply with the law.
"This fine will not be an isolated penalty," Graham added. "We know other companies are showing a similar disregard for the law and we’ve every intention of taking further enforcement action against companies that continue to bombard people with unlawful marketing texts and calls."
If nuisance call outfits fail to operate within the PECR regulations then the ICO has powers to levy fines of up to £500,000. Ofcom, meanwhile, can whack penalties of up to £2m over breaches of rules linked to abandoned and silent calls.
The ICO is also urging people to fill in an online survey where they can complain about such unwanted texts and calls. ®
Is there any point warning these companies about forthcoming fines? Doesn't that just give the scumbag directors ample time to shift assets to a safe place?
Until we have a law that gives the ICO power to commandeer a JCB and dig up the offender's incoming lines within 24hrs of the first validated complaint and impound their stupid big white Audis then this sort of activity will carry on. Prosecution and a fine dodged through bankrupcy are just a risk of doing business, and the slow wheels of justice will provide plenty of time for boot-filling and squirreling away.
"Today’s action sends out a clear message to the marketing industry that this menace will not be tolerated,"
Yeaj, like fsck it does. £90k is a derisory fine for these scumbags, it's just a slap on the wrist.
Hit them with a £10k per call fine, and ban the directors from being a director of any company again until the total is paid.
The fault is that caller ID is useless
(1) The "message that this sends" to such companies is that they should not provide caller ID and so get caught. The telephone system is technologically so primitive that it is (the telcos claim) impossible to trace calls. Even when caller ID is provided it can easily be spoofed, because the spec is primitive.
(2) Many organisations (eg the NHS) withhold caller ID as a matter of policy "for security". That is, they consider that it is more secure to get someone involved in a possibly sensitive conversation if they can't distinguish the caller from a complete stranger. So blocking anonymous calls also blocks the important ones.
(3) As I remarked a few weeks go with lots of upvotes, many organisations (eg banks) go to great lengths to mimick the behaviour of criminals, eg by asking for security information in calls that they have initiated.