back to article Manchester nuisance-call biz fined £150k after ignoring opt-out list

A sweary Mancunian biz has been fined £150,000 for making almost 64,000 nuisance calls to people who had opted out of automated marketing. Some 59 complaints were made about Oaklands Assist UK, which made the calls over a two-month period in May to July last year. The UK's data protection watchdog said the firm was one of the …

  1. Korev Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    For this reason – and to ensure the directors don't just form another firm and repeat the cycle – the government is planning to make directors personally liable for the fines.

    Fantastic news, this might make some of them think before starting the harassment

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

      they have been saying that for a long time. One of the biggest problems of Brexit is that that is all that they seem to think about :-(

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

        If the Tories can't blame the EU for their mistakes and inaction they'll blame the Brexit process, after that they'll have to find some other excuse for their incompetence.

        But the threat to penalise company directors is I suspect like most Tory promises, a few good headlines and then, nothing.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

          See also the proposed death by cycling laws. This ignores the fact there are a minuscule number of deaths attributed to cycling each year contrasted with over a thousand caused by motorised vehicles.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

            Death by cyclist

            I am glad they are cracking down on the small number of fixie twats.

            Kill someone, get a decent stint in jail, seems fair to me.

            Oh and if on a fixie, you have to eat it.

            1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

              Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

              Oh and if on a fixie, you have to eat it.

              Fixies have got to be the stupidest idea ever. A bike that has no gears...well, maybe. A bike that has no freewheel? Another "brilliant idea" that makes no sense. And the number of cyclists, skateboard and scooter commuters I see without helmets concerns me (even more than a grown adult pushing a child's Razer scooter in a suit and tie)

              1. MJI Silver badge

                Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                Well mine has 18 gears and a disc brake

              2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                Isn't the "fixie" a track racing bike? On the road it's just a pretension for arseholes working their way up to a BMW. (and/or avoiding congestion charges)

                1. MJI Silver badge

                  Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                  Just the same as a biker using a speedway bike on the road, no brakes no gears.

                  I grew out of single gear bikes when I was about 10 when I FINALLY got a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub bike

          2. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

            "This ignores the fact there are a minuscule number of deaths attributed to cycling each year contrasted with over a thousand caused by motorised vehicles."

            You might not have noticed, but death by dangerous driving is already a crime. The current maximum punishment is 14 years, and that will be raised to life under the same proposals. So, you know, it doesn't ignore the fact at all.

            Also, cyclists KSI (kill and seriously injure) a similar number of pedestrians to cars, per passenger mile.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

              Unless you think cyclists will collectively cycle the same amount of miles as cars then your statistic is irrelevant. Plus pedestrians fail to notice cyclists far more than cars.

              1. Andrew Meredith

                Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                "Plus pedestrians fail to notice cyclists far more than cars."

                Given that the cyclist is on the pavement, where a lot of these incidents occur, the pedestrian is under no obligation to the cyclist, who is riding illegally.

              2. DavCrav Silver badge

                Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                "Unless you think cyclists will collectively cycle the same amount of miles as cars then your statistic is irrelevant. Plus pedestrians fail to notice cyclists far more than cars."

                Really not. You cannot use total deaths to decide which is more dangerous when there are far more of one variety than another. For example, many more people in the UK die of heart attacks than gun attacks, but guns are more dangerous.

            2. terrythetech

              Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

              "Also, cyclists KSI (kill and seriously injure) a similar number of pedestrians to cars, per passenger mile."

              Reference please. Oh, and while you are at it, what is the KILL per passenger mile for each? Do the KSI figures include those in/on the vehicle?

              1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                "Also, cyclists KSI (kill and seriously injure) a similar number of pedestrians to cars, per passenger mile."

                I think any similarities will come from statistical quirks with motor vehicles clocking up so much more miles (lots of them where there are no pedestrians at all) than bikes and thus driving the average per mile down. This is the same kind false comparison that will let you show that the home is a more dangerous place than, say, an oil refinery.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

            "See also the proposed death by cycling laws."

            Your comment ignores the fact that there are already laws dealing with death caused by motorised vehicles but when a cyclist caused a death the only legislation that could be found to apply was that drawn up to deal with management of horses. Are you arguing that because cyclists cause few deaths there shouldn't be a means to prosecute those few?

            In my view as soon as I leave my gate* I become part of the traffic irrespective of whether I'm on foot (human or horse!) or on wheels (and irrespective of the number of wheels or te power source). As such I have equal responsibility with all other road users to ensure my safety and that of the rest of the traffic. Is that unreasonable?

            *Like a good many rural lanes there is no separate footway; it's all road surface. I use the word surface in its most general sense.

          4. Christoph Silver badge

            Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

            "there are a minuscule number of deaths attributed to cycling each year"

            Will you be the one explaining to the grieving relatives that because there are only a small number of deaths each year there is no need to make a law to punish the person who killed their loved one?

            That because only a few cyclists are arrogant entitled arseholes who think pedestrians should leap out of the way of the bicycle approaching silently from behind, that makes it perfectly OK for those arseholes to get away with it?

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

              Yep. By my house there is a stretch of pavement, where I walk. In dong so I encounter a few cyclists who use this footway because the alternatives are a longer detour or the A406. I don't actually mind the careful cyclists, though it is illegal. But, there is a significant proportion who think that they have a right of way - presumably a divine right, because there are no cycle path markings to make them think there is a legal right. And these bastards think that pedestrians should jump out of their way. I've been sworn at, ridden at and even pinned against the wall by an abusive cyclist. I've had several deliberately ride at me and one rode into my dog. So yes they should fucking well be prosecuted. Sadly the police are too understaffed to go after these bastards for anything short of homicide.

              1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                I don't actually mind the careful cyclists, though it is illegal.

                I think that technically all wheeled vehicles are illegal on the pavement. That said, sometimes it is the right and safest thing to do but only if you don't go faster than walking pace and always give way to pedestrians.

                OTOH on shared paths or the many tracks where the foothpath is next to the cycle path, pedestrians can be an ignorant bunch… so you must be prepared to swerve and break at any time. Even when you have right of way.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                  pedestrians ALWAYS have right of way in law

          5. Smooth Newt
            Stop

            Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

            See also the proposed death by cycling laws. This ignores the fact there are a minuscule number of deaths attributed to cycling each year contrasted with over a thousand caused by motorised vehicles.

            Why do you think the penalty for killing someone should be linked to the novelty of the method used?

            1. Spazturtle Silver badge

              Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

              If I go jogging and somebody walks in front of me and I accidentally knock them to the ground and they die then I will not face any criminal charges. Why should somebody ridding a bike be treated any different?

              1. MJI Silver badge

                Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                If you are running at Usain Bolt speeds and cannot at least try to swerve why not.

                "Fixie Twat" remember was riding an illegal bicycle no brakes for a start, and AFAIR no bell, and also going too fast for no brakes.

                1. Spazturtle Silver badge

                  Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                  ""Fixie Twat" remember was riding an illegal bicycle no brakes for a start, and AFAIR no bell, and also going too fast for no brakes."

                  His bike had a rear break but no front break. I don't think a front break would have helped either since all front breaks do it throw you over the handle bars, so he would have still hit her anyway, just with his head instead of with the front wheel.

                  1. MJI Silver badge

                    Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                    He had no rear brake either

                    Front BRAKEs do not throw you over the handlebars, they just work efficiently due to weight transfer.

                    On real bikes (ones with engines), twin discs with multi piston calipers is common, and braking is absolutely phenonimal, stoppies are perfectly doable.

                    On my MBT I can put the front brake on hard and slow down quite well.

                    Front brakes throwing people over the handlebars is just bullshit.

                    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                      Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                      Front BRAKEs do not throw you over the handlebars, they just work efficiently due to weight transfer.

                      They can on a bicycle because you've got a relatively high centre of gravity. However, this is very unlikely.

                      Fixies are for tracks only and are not suitable for any kind of traffic. Really ought not to be on sale for road use at all.

                      Add them to the ever-growing list of shit that people buy and look for people to blame when they have accidents but probably some kind "causing a hazard to traffic" charge could be a start and throw in malice aforethought or negligence for any subsequent accidents and apply it to roller bladers and twats on scooters.

              2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

                You might. And if you jog into them ( a more likely scenario) you probably would.

          6. David Roberts Silver badge

            Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

            Can I respectfully suggest that unless the cyclist is also making unsolicited bulk marketing calls whilst cycling (not impossible given the number of cyclists who appear unable to function without holding a phone conversation) that this is slightly off topic?

            On the upside it didn't mention Trump or Brexit.

            1. terrythetech
              Facepalm

              Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

              @ David Roberts -"On the upside it didn't mention Trump or Brexit.

              Sadly, you did!

        2. Spanners Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

          ...after that they'll have to find some other excuse for their incompetence...

          I suspect that, unless we have a different group in charge, they will fix upon some particular ethnic group. Any different party will blame the conservatives. They will have to think of something else.

          Perhaps they will blame middle eastern people, perhaps the Welsh. It is unlikely that they will blame themselves. That is not how sociopaths and narcissists function...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: overnment is planning to make directors personally liable

          >But the threat to penalise company directors is I suspect like most Tory promises, a few good headlines and then, nothing.

          Easy fix: just inform the Tories that the nuisance companies are operating out of Brussels.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Government is planning to make directors personally liable

        Don't just plan it: do it. GDPR/current DPA (and, I think , the previous DPA) already has this facility so if the prosecution could be brought under DPA rather than any other act this should be done.

        Another power which would be useful would be to freeze a company bank account and company registration as soon as the company is first contacted.

        1. Christoph Silver badge

          Re: Government is planning to make directors personally liable

          Publish their personal phone numbers. Then make occasional randomly-timed calls to those numbers, with a stiff penalty if they don't answer promptly or if someone else answers.

          So they have to rush to answer every call that anyone happens to make to those published numbers.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The government is usually loathe to go after this kind because the companies usually operate in areas of high unemployment and use "jobs", usually poorly paid and exploitative, as a figleaf to justify what they're doing.

    3. teebie

      Fantastic news, this might make some of them think before starting the harassment

      Yes, they will think "How can I Crossley away my ill-gotten gains so that they don't get taken away from me"

    4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Even better suggestion - fines aren't discharged when the company is dissolved. If you become a director of a new company, after having been a director of one that dissolved owing fines, the debt is transferred to the new company.

      You'll never get the money out of the directors individually, but a blacklist of directors owing fines would keep them from pulling the same trick more than once. And from getting hired by anyone, as their fines would transfer to the new company, or the company hiring them, perhaps?

  2. iowe_iowe

    I tried to call both company directors for a comment, but they hung up..

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    What about pinning the CEO's balls on a board displayed on public place?

    That one would be harder to escape.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What about pinning the CEO's balls on a board displayed on public place?

      That should help promote women to senior executive posts.

  4. Andy Livingstone

    ICO information in reports

    Why do they not include the phone numbers used by the offending business? Not much of an effort required.

    Why treat like a Parking Charge with a reduction for prompt payment?

    An Information Commissioner with teeth made of cotton wool?

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: ICO information in reports

      Why do they not include the phone numbers used by the offending business?

      Because they could be withholding their CLI or sending fake CLI data.

      1. Flywheel Silver badge

        Re: ICO information in reports

        I spoke to one of the callers and he stated (proudly) that Manchester was kinda the national hub for spam callers. I ended up blocking/ignoring every call that came from a Manchester number after that. They're shameless - most of the time they don't bother hiding/faking their number because they know the ICO's as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

      2. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: ICO information in reports

        "Because they could be withholding their CLI or sending fake CLI data."

        Which means that the Telco is allowing them to do this......

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: ICO information in reports

      After the companies deliberate lack of cooperation I'm also confused why they did not go for max fine as a don't mess with us message

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: ICO information in reports

        After the companies deliberate lack of cooperation I'm also confused why they did not go for max fine as a don't mess with us message

        Two reasons: sanctions have to be commensurate to be reasonable. Give everyone the maximum fine for every infraction and you may find the judgements overturned in courts. But basically anything that gives the companies an excuse to declare bankruptcy is to be avoided. The directors just fold the company and start a new one with its assets. This is why some degree of personal liability is required.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: ICO information in reports

          But basically anything that gives the companies an excuse to declare bankruptcy is to be avoided.

          As usual the solution is painfully simple - Limited liability should not apply to fines or criminal proceedings.

          One might almost think the incumbent administration has a vested interest in not doing so, I can't think of any other reason not to make that easy change.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: ICO information in reports

      "Why treat like a Parking Charge with a reduction for prompt payment?"

      Because otherwise non-recoverable enforcement costs might be greater than the reduction.

  5. Flywheel Silver badge
    Flame

    Good! I hope my bl**dy insurance company's reading this

    I had endless calls from this bunch of cnuts last year after "someone" connected to a car insurance claim leaked my details to these and other vampires. In the end they accused me of hassling them> - obviously nonsense - and only left me alone after I was able to block their number on landline and mobile phones. I hope the directors and up on the streets.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Good! I hope my bl**dy insurance company's reading this

      Are you sure it wasn't one of those "I'm ringing about your recent accident you were innocent of" spammers? They're the worst of the worst.

      1. tapemonkey

        Re: Good! I hope my bl**dy insurance company's reading this

        With these "accident" leaches I just wait for them to finish their spiel then say "It wasn't an accident I ran them over on purpose" before laughing maniacly. They usually hang up after a few seconds.

  6. Lotaresco

    Strict Liability

    One of the many things that the EU and US FDA did in the past was to introduce "strict liability" for the pharmaceutical industry. This means that directors get to go direct to jail without collecting their pay cheques in the event that the pharma company does something bad, like knowingly selling drugs that cause harm.

    The fallout inside the industry was impressive. In the 80s company directors largely were deaf to scientists saying "This drug does very little good, and could actually harm people." If it could clear the FDA hurdle it was going to be sold. After strict liability the directors scrambled to enhance the powers of regulatory compliance within the companies.

    The same should apply to all businesses, TBH.

  7. MJI Silver badge

    0161 = block

    If I see 0161 appear on the mobile telephone I press the block icon.

    About once a fortnight a new one appears.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: 0161 = block

      For the half-a-million folks living in Manchester (and presumably also the folks in the nearby areas) I'm not entirely sure this is a good policy to take :)

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: 0161 = block

        For the half-a-million folks living in Manchester

        Quite a bit more. The city itself and the postcode is quite small but 0161 is used in Stockport, Trafford, Salford (also shares the postcode) and Tameside. Easily over a million.

        That said, if it's not one from one of your contacts, a blanket block probably isn't such a bad idea. Bunch of chancers, us Mancs, the lot of us! ;-)

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: 0161 = block

          > Bunch of chancers, us Mancs, the lot of us! ;-)

          I lived there for 7 years as a student, couldn't agree more.

          Although the 'babs from Camel One in Rusholme were supreme

          1. Lotaresco

            Re: 0161 = block

            "Although the 'babs from Camel One in Rusholme were supreme"

            I did six years at Owens. I can honestly say that I have no idea what you are on about. The salubrious joints of my day were the Conti (New Continental Club), Band on the Wall, the Russell Club and dodgy café behind the medical school that sold suicide specials.

            1. JetSetJim Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: Camel One

              I give you Camel One

              I was in Oak House for a bit, next door to you :) I heard of Band on the Wall, but not your other haunts - but hey, lots of bars in Manc

              Icon for Camel One's signature chilli sauce

        2. Spamfast Bronze badge
          Pint

          Re: 0161 = block

          Bunch of chancers, us Mancs, the lot of us! ;-)

          He-he. Cheshire lad myself and couldn't agree more. Still haven't forgiven you all for letting them close Strangeways Brewery. The brewery pub used to be the finishing post for our crawls.

          Having said that, I'm now a southern shandy-drinking b%$^%$d having lived down here for the past thirty years. Can't get a meat and potato pie but the weather's definitely warmer. Win some, lose some!

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: 0161 = block

            Still haven't forgiven you all for letting them close Strangeways Brewery.

            TBH Boddies was never the best of the Manchester beers, but the draft is still brewed in Manchester by the mighty Hydes brewery in Moss Side and all the better for it. Well worth searching out a Hydes or a Holts pub for a decent local beer, or Robinsons if yer in Stockport. When I'm in town it's straight down to Sinclairs in Shambles as about the only place where you can get a pint for under a fiver, mind you bitter has gone up to £2!

    2. Uberior

      Re: 0161 = block

      If you have a decent phone, you should be able to code +44161* for 0161* as automatic block.

      Mine is auto-reject for most dialling codes around Cardiff & Swansea, Manchester & 0203.

      Voicemail divert is off too.

      1. RFC822

        Re: 0161 = block

        Mine is auto-reject for most dialling codes around Cardiff & Swansea, Manchester & 0203.

        There is no such dialling code as 0203. All of London uses the dialling code 020. The eight-digit local numbers within the 020 area currently start with 3, 7 or 8, although this could change in the future.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: 0161 = block

          Right. That's my cue for a short moan/rant. (Off topic but sod it, this is El reg)

          London numbers, as stated, all start 020 from outside London or on a mobile.

          The next bit is in the form of 3123* 4567 or 7123 4567 or 8123 4567

          Outside London or on a mobile this makes no difference.

          In London you don't dial the 020. You do dial the rest of that. So putting up a notice, or a leaflet or a sign, or the side of a van with 0207 123 4567 is just plain wrong. .

          Don't do it

          * the 3xxx was introduced when 7xxx numbers started to run out. Often, not always they're Central London (usually 7xxx). Usually, not always business numbers.

          (Oh and never was one for Boddies. I much preferred Tetley's or over the other side of the hills Sam Smith. Just saying.)

          1. Kernel

            Re: 0161 = block

            "In London you don't dial the 020. You do dial the rest of that. So putting up a notice, or a leaflet or a sign, or the side of a van with 0207 123 4567 is just plain wrong. ."

            It's only a problem because your telcos haven't set up their translation tables properly - the correct way to do it is to look at the originating number (the real one, not the one presented to the callee) and the dialed number and then insert or delete leading digits as required. This was standard practice over 30 years ago when I was involved in writing translation tables - in fact, it even goes back earlier in a limited form to electro-mechanical exchanges (eg., the BPO's director controlled step-by-step systems), so it certainly pre-dates rocket science

            1. RFC822

              Re: 0161 = block

              It's only a problem because your telcos haven't set up their translation tables properly - the correct way to do it is to look at the originating number (the real one, not the one presented to the callee) and the dialed number and then insert or delete leading digits as required.

              Poppycock. If a number like 020 7999 1234 was misrepresented as 0207 999 1234, how would your translation table know that the 999 was the start of a 7-digit local number rather than a call to the emergency services? There's a reason why there was a differentiation between area codes (e.g. 020 for London) and local numbers.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 0161 = block

        "Mine is auto-reject for most dialling codes around Cardiff & Swansea, Manchester & 0203."

        A bit like blocking entire country codes from emailling you. It's sad that important communications links can be so abused by a few that the many users have to resort to severely restricting the use of the system they pay for.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the government is planning to make directors personally liable for the fines

    correction: the government HAS BEEN planning. For _quite_ a few years. So expect swift shift from "planning" to "implementing".

    p.s. sorry, forgot about "planning to implement making them personally liable" stage. Watch this space c. 2025!

  9. JohnG Silver badge

    "...and to ensure the directors don't just form another firm and repeat the cycle – the government is planning to make directors personally liable for the fines.

    I thought the whole point of the "Limited" in "Limited Liability" is that the liability of directors for their company's debts is limited to debts that have not been accrued through the course of normal legal business activities. When directors allow their company to do anything that is illegal, they can be held liable for the comany's debts and can be held personally responsible for any crimes committed/their negligence. Running a company that engages in making illegal marketing calls and then folding the company when a fine arrives from the regulator seem to be exactly the sort of things for which directors should be held liable.

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