back to article UK watchdog dishes out fines totaling £600k to four spam-spewers

The Information Commissioner's Office has fined four businesses £600,000 for spamming customers millions of times. The companies broke UK law by sending out unsolicited text messages, emails and phone calls between 2016 and 2017. Wales-based Barrington Claims made 15.2 million spam phone calls between May and June 2016, using …

  1. DJV Silver badge

    Good

    But the fines should be higher.

    1. batfink Silver badge

      Re: Good

      And payable by the Directors, not the (no doubt) Limited Liability Company.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good

        The fines would be adequate deterrent if the ICO were able to collect them.

        Carphone Warehouse will have to cough up their recent £400k fine (although they'll claim the 20% discount for early payment), but the bottom-feeding spamming industry all know to rinse their activities through disposable shell companies, and I'll be surprised if the ICO (or more strictly HMT) see a brass farthing of these penalties. Until the various different regulators act together (so Companies House, the Insolvency Service, OFCOM, and the ICO, plus any relevant professional bodies), and/or until government ensure unpaid corporate penalties can be recovered from directors, spamming will remain a punishment-free crime.

        Given that the War on Porn, and the War on Plastic Bags have higher priority for this government than any number of far more important challenges, I would suspect that sorting out fine-dodging spammers is somewhere on the list of things that they won't ever do.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Good

        Limited liability only shields the investors.

        Directors are fully liable for reckless or illegal decisions.

    2. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: Good

      As I've said before we should start ICO related fines at the maximum and look for reasons to lower it, don't find any? Fine at the maximum amount.

      Right now we gradually put a few quid onto the fine and start at zero, resulting in us never giving the maximum EVER and a majority being a pittance.

      They should have to prove the controls they had in place before, contracts, safeguards, training etc. Then they can show how quickly they reported the incident to both the ICO and those affected, then lastly what they've done since reporting. If all of those are dire they get hit with the maximum.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Good

      "But the fines should be higher."

      They seem to be trending that way.

  2. peterm3
    Mushroom

    Yes, the fines are fairly small compared to the number of people involved. If each spent 5 seconds deleting them, that's a lot of wasted time. I think BT has been doing some good stuff on tracking down spam phone calls. I guess texts can be sent from outside the jurisdiction so are not per se illegal. I assume the UK companies were tracked down by someone replying to the message?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      " I guess texts can be sent from outside the jurisdiction so are not per se illegal."

      The principals on whose behalf the texts were sent are likely to be inside the jurisdiction. They need to be hit.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "The principals on whose behalf the texts were sent are likely to be inside the jurisdiction. They need to be hit."

        Joint and several liability of the advertising agency AND the company which hired them would be a good starting point, along with statutory damages (so the culprits can't argue about the actual damages) and a right of private action.

        It only takes a few tens of small claims filings to dissuade most companies from doing silly things.

  3. teknopaul Silver badge

    Have a look at Oracle

    The amound of crap I get from big name companies is unbelievable.

    Of course with Oracle you know its low paid handspamming. Kind of feel sorry for them knowing that I will never ever buy anything of big red and their CRM systems are so shite they cant even tell that other reps have tried lots already and been given the finger.

  4. noboard

    35 days!!!

    "the ICO issued the company an enforcement notice ordering it to stop the illegal marketing within 35 days."

    So they can keep breaking the law up until then. Can I get a similar deal please.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: 35 days!!!

      You got there before me. It did conjure a picture of the cops catching a bloke half way through a window and telling him he had a month to stop burgling.

      I don't get it. If the action is illegal it needs to stop NOW!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about where they got the numbers from? Should we not be looking at fining them as well for selling them? I know that's not always going to be the case but it's a start.

    1. Flywheel Silver badge

      This is what I'm trying to do at the moment with a bunch of ambulance chasers, wanting me to claim for a non-existent injury. They keep quoting "Data Protection Act" when I ask for source details so I've sent them a SAR. If they don't comply I'll report them to the ICO. If they do comply I'll report them to the ICO - for not getting my permission.

  6. DJO Silver badge

    Fine less than fee?

    Quite ridiculous "penalty",more like a predictable business expense.

    When the fine is so low the company can still turn a profit from spamming where's the deterrent?

    The fine should be at least the cost of a 2nd class stamp per call, for the first offence.

    It should double for each subsequent offence.

    The company should be liable for 50% of the fine, the board of directors should be personally liable for the other 50%.

  7. adam payne Silver badge

    The Information Commissioner's Office has fined four companies £600,000 for spamming customers millions of times.

    All will into administration within a month of the fine.

    1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

      > All will into administration within a month of the fine.

      Dear El Reg, please can we have a followup article tracking whether anything grts paid, whether the businesses close down, and what the directors do next? Thanks.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and payment?

    How much has actually been paid?

    Perhaps someone could let us know but the probability/reality is that the funds will simply have vanished. I have no idea how long the investigation took but no doubt adequate time to 'adjust' income and liabilities.

    If any benefit is to accrue an initial hold on the company funds is essential as is action on the executives of the company who initiate and control these all too frequent fly by night operators.

  9. Wolfclaw

    Good luck getting the cash, the bosses have closed down and done a runner with the loot !

  10. Dave Pickles

    Maybe they'll pay after all...

    Goody Market UK made an application to strike the company off the register on January 2nd. On the 10th an objection was received by Companies House and the process suspended.

    Barrington Claims were about to be struck-off for non-compliance but that is now suspended.

    TFLI filed for strike-off on 4th Jan; ICO hasn't stopped that yet.

  11. deive

    They probably made more than the fines already, and also will no doubt end up not paying, or only paying a fraction. I totally have full confindace in our socitey and in those responsable.....

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

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