back to article UK's data watchdog seizes suspected Scottish nuisance caller's kit

A Scottish company suspected of making 200 million nuisance calls that may have blocked railway safety hotlines has been raided by the Information Commissioner's Office. The UK data protection watchdog seized computer equipment and documents from the firm's offices yesterday. The company, which the ICO won't name until the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can someone please

    invent some bit of tech that sends 50kV down the line to spam callers?

    That would stop them once and for all.

    Wishful thinking I know but it would avoid a lot of court action.

    1. vir

      Re: Can someone please

      I knew an old ham operator who used to DF rogue hams transmitting above power limits and would push a pin through the coax going to their antennas. As this was in the days of vacuum tube transmitters, it would result in rapid disassembly of critical components.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Can someone please

        Forgive my ignorance, but would that not have required physical access to the rogue site - not to mention a second DF (at least) to locate it) ?

        1. vir

          Re: Can someone please

          Physical access was easy if not entirely legal; the antenna was, as I understand, usually mounted on top of a house or garage with the coax snaking out of a window. As far as DF, they had a directional antenna mounted on top of a van and would take bearings from several locations as they drove around. Turns out the General Post Office and MI8 did something very similar (without the pin-in-the-coax trick) back in the '20s and '30s with MI5 taking over to help find German spies operating within the UK, pretty cool!

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direction_finding

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Can someone please

      "tech that sends 50kV down the line to spam callers?"

      Unfortunately that rather exceeds the range of telco DACs.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Can someone please

        Nothing an etherkiller can't solve...

        We need an icon for BOFHinery, in the meantime this'll do -->

    3. Chozo

      Re: Can someone please

      I for one am chuffing stoked by this good news.

      I'll get my coat, it's the one hanging on the breakfast shovel

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope the ICO are on the right track with this warrant.

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      Could be the end of the line for this Scottish company.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It could derail their future.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      They'll be railing against it

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Nah, this feel pretty terminal to me.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They also need to focus and not go loco about it.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Coat

          They'll have to be on their guard

          1. Commswonk Silver badge
            Coat

            At least the ICO didn't signal its intentions in advance.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There are some good points being raised here.

    4. phuzz Silver badge

      I'm sure the ICO will be pretty chuffed if this goes as planned.

  3. adam payne Silver badge

    I bet the MD of the company is already putting plans in motion for another company to be setup.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Probably

      "Has your company been shut down by the ICO? Call this number now to see what you could win."

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "I bet the MD of the company is already putting plans in motion for another company to be setup."

      I'm sure there are be criminal charges available in relation to endangering rail safety. They might keep him from setting up any more companies for a good while. I'd like to think the ICO will be liaising with British Transport Police on this one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >ICO will be liaising with British Transport Police

        To quote a former Police friend:

        "Those that can, join the regular police. Those that can't, join the MOD Police. Those that really, really can't, join the British Transport Police.."

    3. Commswonk Silver badge
      Unhappy

      I bet the MD of the company is already putting plans in motion for another company to be setup.

      Probably, sad to say. I wonder if the ICO can impound computer equipment pending the payment of any fine. I suspect not if the equipment is leased or otherwise not the property of the offenders.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh I do so hope it is the one who rings me several times a week - usually at meal times. The products and Scottish accents fit nicely. I warned them the last time that the ICO would get them. Coincidentally only a few days ago I sent the ICO a long list of the recent times they called me with their recorded message. The straw for the camel's back?

    As others have pointed out - unfortunately probably another phoenix.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      "Sent ... a long list"?

      Pah. I've got the ICO complaint page on a browser tab - I'm usually half way through the complaint form before the caller drops the line! (obviously I keep the call open as long as possible in the hope that they are paying time-related call charges, though I have noted the calls usually terminate after about 55 seconds ...)

      My blood pressure can just about put up with spam calls but some of the gits scare the bejesus out of my 'slightly more aged' mum!

  5. Bob Dole (tm)
    Paris Hilton

    Wait wut?

    You guys have a call center people call to see if a train is coming? Seriously? Can’t they just look?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Wait wut?

      I hope someone responds. This got me wondering also. And then I Googled.... more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banavie_railway_station

      1. Tiggrrr42

        Re: Wait wut?

        Welllllll, speculating here....

        Not all rail lines are straight with clear lines of view.

        Some trains go a wee bit quickly

        Some people crossing lines might need more than a few seconds - moving livestock, for instance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can’t they just look?

      Well, yes. But I would want to know if a fast train was on the way and I had a slow, heavy load to get through the crossing...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can’t they just look?

        https://www.networkrail.co.uk/feeds/new-mobile-warning-system-for-scottish-level-crossings-as-number-of-near-misses-rise-over-summer-holidays/

        You don't ring them, they text you hence the issue with this firm sending texts.

        Edit: Then again maybe not from looking at what the ICO say in the link, then again it is the ICO.

        Edit 2: Google shows no phone number for checking level crossings that I can find.

        Edit 3: Thinking about this, why would you have a number to call when you are texting all phones near a level crossing when a train is coming? That's madness I say.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Can’t they just look?

          "Google shows no phone number for checking level crossings that I can find."

          There are more ways to get information than Google. A big sign beside the crossing would be one.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can’t they just look?

            Tried street view, no phone numbers but a phone at one of the three level crossings I checked from the network rail list on the link. I'm a curious fellow. I'm aware of the bridge ones but this is specific to level crossings.

        2. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Can’t they just look?

          "Edit 2: Google shows no phone number for checking level crossings that I can find."

          Try Google Streetview and see if there is a big sign with a phone number on it.

          Certainly, on the railway bridges near me, there are signs saying "If you have crashed into this bridge, please phone Network Rail on 01xxx xxx xxx, and quote bridge no. xxx"

        3. Arty Effem

          Re: Can’t they just look?

          "Google shows no phone number for checking level crossings that I can find."

          The only crossing you need to check is the one at which you are present. Dedicated trackside phone, no dialling required.

    3. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Wait wut?

      The fastest trains in the UK (excluding Eurostar) can move up to 60metres a second. That doesn't give you much time to move out of the way of the train (and at the speed the train will have moved quite a long way before the driver even begins to brake).

      1. P0l0nium

        60metres a second.

        Not at Banavie they aren't ... more like 10M/S max.

        The only 100Mph train at Banavie is the Hogwarts Express.

    4. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Wait wut?

      "As others have pointed out - unfortunately probably another phoenix"

      They have taken to going after directors that dont pay the fines for disqualifications via the insolvancy service. And the judges in question must hate spam because if you look at the stats for disqualifications they usually get about 10 years for that! So eventually justice is done.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Wait wut?

        " if you look at the stats for disqualifications they usually get about 10 years for that! "

        I wonder how many just substitute the cleaner and keep going via fronting.

        Which happens to be a serious criminal offence if detected (but isn't detected often)

    5. Pete4000uk

      Re: Wait wut?

      My local line has new foot crossings with a green and red light system to show if you can cross or not. In this case, it has a phone in case the lights go out.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Thinking about this, why would you have a number to call when you are texting all phones near a level crossing when a train is coming? "

    In the past there were phones at some level crossings and drivers of slow loads had to get clearance first. It is possible they were vectored onto a control centre phone line which could also be dialled with a conventional number.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      In the past there were phones at some level crossings

      In addition to the conventional level crossings we all "know and cherish" there are dedicated crossings for farm equipment and livestock where the railway line cuts across a farmer property. I can think of at least 3 around here off the top of my head. None of these has any safety or any automation. They are on a "call to clear" basis and the farmer is obliged to keep them locked when not in use.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "In the past there were phones at some level crossings and drivers of slow loads had to get clearance first. "

      There still are. There is usually a phone at the crossing too.

  7. Da Weezil

    There are a number of crossings in West Wales that require slow loads etc to be cleared with the signalman first, a number of collisions have occurred in recent years by idiots who felt the regs didnt apply to them.

    Although an old news report this news item illustrates the subject and is as true now as when it was written .

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lincolnshire/4072835.stm

    Jamming this call centre with spam is really criminal.

    Surely it is time for some proper penalties for these parasites? The current approach is no deterrant, and achieves very little apart from adding to the list of closed companies. Make the directors personally (criminally) liable, and impose prison time for serious offences.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Although an old news report"

      Of course it's an old news report. It's an actual news report. Current Beeb news site pages tend to be restricted to a video and a selection of tweets but mostly links to other pages restricted to video and a selection of tweets.

  8. VinceH Silver badge

    "ICO gets search warrant... for firm accused of jamming up railway safety hotline"

    Worth noting that about half an hour ago, @ICOnews said on Twitter:

    "ICO granted warrant: We’re pleased with the decision of the judge and we plan to execute the warrant shortly. This is just one part of a larger investigation into the use of personal data for political purposes and we will now need time to collect and consider the evidence"

    Though I do wonder how long "shortly" will be. Probably best not to rush, in case there is still evidence to be disposed of. Monday morning will probably do.

  9. unwarranted triumphalism

    More jobs destroyed by heavy-handed regulation. Thanks Obama.

    1. Slef

      What the fuck has our Train Station got to do with your hatred of the previous US President? For your information Scotland is not part of the US and although the Orange One has a golf course in Scotland he is not the most popular figure there so why don't you fuck off with your sad bitter post and return to breitbart!

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        has our Train Station got to do with your hatred of the previous US President

        I think that @UT was trying to be edgy, spiky and other words that describe standups who really, really can't..

        Don't worry - at some point his mum will take away his computer and make him go to bed.

      2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        you git ... now got the "David Dickinson disliked by the other kids at school" sketch "... was it because I is orange?" :-)

        By the way, guess what the first hit is if you search for "mahogany antiques expert" ... you couldn't make that up ...

  10. Andy Livingstone

    Obama?

    Is he now involved with Scottish Railway crossings? I How did he squeeze in here?

    1. handleoclast Silver badge

      Re: Obama?

      Do not feed the troll.

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