back to article ICO: Private dicks broke data-protection rules when they blagged data

Two private investigators who tricked organisations into revealing personal details about customers have been found guilty of breaching the Data Protection Act. Barry Spencer, 41, and Adrian Stanton, 40, who ran ICU Investigations Ltd in Feltham, Middlesex, were convicted at Isleworth Crown Court of conspiring to unlawfully …

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Anonymous Coward

So when

will the ICO show some teeth? Or even shield the average 'subject' from exploitation?

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Bronze badge

Re: So when

that is subject as opposed to citizen.......

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Unhappy

Jail doesn't solve these problems ...

but fining the offenders a large sum, based upon their present income, would be more effective and cheaper to enforce.

Jail harms offenders families, burdens the welfare services and satisfies no ones goals.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jail doesn't solve these problems ...

Jail harms offenders families, burdens the welfare services and satisfies no ones goals.

Actually, it does. The idea is that fines and punishment should act as a deterrent, not as an encouragement. Monetary fines only affect smaller companies - for the likes of Google it amounts to small change that gets booked as "the cost of doing business". Some time in jail for the executives would correct that attitude more effectively than any monetary fines would. What's more, fines for GOVERNMENT breaches merely amount to moving some tax money from one budget to another, making the victims (the public) effectively pay for a breach of law against them.

There is more: the "offence discount" for large volume perpetrators.

From the article: nearly 2,000 separate data privacy breaches between April 2009 and May 2010.

To do it right re. monetary fines, offences should be fined as if they were individual ones, on the simple basis that the volume of offences makes no material difference to the impact on the rights and lives of the victims. Otherwise we are in principle stating that it's less harmful if you screw up on a large scale. I know the argument is that this could effectively close a company: well - if they intentionally broke the law that strikes me as just about the right punishment. But, of course, that too could be avoided by sticking executives in jail instead. I bet you that boardroom attitudes would change quite rapidly - they still won't right now.

So, personally I'm all for jail time. And maybe that is really what the Google barges are for.. :)

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Holmes

Re: Jail doesn't solve these problems ...

1) Brits need a RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) law, I think.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeer_Influenced_and_Corrupt_Organizations_Act

Of course RICO gets sort of dicey with (formal) Royalty, but a difference in consequences is not an inter-class deal breaker. Nobody likes a jerk. In Jail or not.

2) The Military Industrial Complex is another story for the present instance of data collection. The Government (NSA) and Silicon Valley are arguing with each other over how wide their respective lanes of the Data Collection Superhighway ought to be and meanwhile promising to be very very careful not to hit and kill an unacceptable number of toddlers and kittens (that would be the rest of us) playing by the roadside. That's a problem of reckless jerks who don't much care if they are liked or not. There has been some success with Hung, Drawn and Quartered in the past, but it should be noted that in 2013 the "Drawn and Quartered" would probably be perceived as Security Theater ... sigh, bureaucrats!, eye roll.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jail doesn't solve these problems ...

You people have no knowledge of this case and the true facts. The facts are that the ICO had 7 confirmed cases against this company by self employed detectives out of 30,000 odd thousands case. It was therefore assumed that the Priv Dicks had carried out 2000 based on circumstantial evidence with no proof. The owner in question of the company who has a family and committed none of the crimes and was not located in the same room as where the calls where made is now being punished for this crime. All staff are on commission only, When this was first highlighted to the owner he reitterated the rules about data protection for all his staff and has been trading with no further cases until today, 3 years This is what most responsible employers would do when they found there was an issue with their staff behaviour. Now despite doing this and correcting the issues with his sub-contract labour, he is about to lose his business, his home, probably go bankrupt and have a wonderful xmas. Therefore before you suggest jail etc. I suggest you know the facts. One final thing to note is the fact that every person that they were tracing where people who had run away from debt and were deliberately evading creditors, e.g. criminals!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jail doesn't solve these problems ...

So sounds like he was using sub contractors as employees to avoid paying national insurance or to provide any employment protection to his staff.

He owns the business, the buck stops with him, he should have reported the staff who broke the law at the time if he was serious but the reality is very different isn't it.

Last time I looked running away from debt and evading creditors was a civil issue and not a crime, however, illegal employment practices, dodging tax and national insurance, not paying the minimum wage etc etc, now those are crimes!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jail doesn't solve these problems ...

Since when has using sub-contract labour been a crime. If it is then every construction complany in the uk needs to be bought to task.

I also notice your statement which highlights the problems with todays society about debt, people think they can spend others money then run away and have the rest of us pay for it through inflated costs by banks etc. to compensate for bad debts. asther than procecute the people who assis in finding these people we should be sending the people who run away from there debts to jail. As by running away and not agreeing a payment plan with thier creditors they are in fact commiting theft and in my eyes have given up any rights they have!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jail doesn't solve these problems ...

Its a crime when its done to avoid paying tax. You might want to swot up on the laws related to employment and tax.

The bottom line is they blagged data and either pleaded guilty or where found guilty. Had your mate reported the subbies at the time he wouldn't have been prosecuted..

As for your comments on debt, people lose jobs or get divorced, find they can't pay and you want to put them in prison? Let's hope it doesn't happen to you.

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Anonymous Coward

Inevitable

Unless and until we move to a centralised register of addresses, which the law requires be kept up to date, such that people/companies owed money can always find the primary residential address for an individual, this sort of thing will inevitably keep happening.

For as long as people simply run away or hide from their obligations, other people will provide a service to track them down.

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