back to article Email-spamming COVID profiteers deleted database with 'key evidence' when UK watchdog came knocking

A company that fired out more than 9,000 spam emails promoting face masks has been fined £40,000 by the UK Information Commissioner's Office and ordered to stop doing it. "The ICO investigation found that the company was not involved in the business of supplying PPE, but that the director had decided to buy face masks to sell …

  1. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Does the ICO have the powers to push 'deleting evidence' towards plod for a criminal investigation?

    Yes, I have a less than sympathetic view towards spammers. (& profiteers)

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      If the evidence was deleted how do they legally know it was evidence, and why did they pre warn them so they could get rid of the alleged evidence?

      1. General Purpose Bronze badge

        Similarly, the ICO seached Cambridge Analytica in March 2018 within an hour of getting a warrant. But that was on a Friday evening, after ICO had announced on the Monday that they'd seek a warrant and after the case had been adjourned on the Thursday.

        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/cambridge-analytica-facebook-high-court-grants-search-warrant-london-offices-data-a8271236.html

        On the other hand, do we want the ICO to have the power to kick the doors down and seize everything whenever it wants?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          "On the other hand, do we want the ICO to have the power to kick the doors down and seize everything whenever it wants?"

          No, we don't. How about we give them the power to kick the doors down and seize everything whenever they've identified a likely criminal and obtained a warrant from a judge. Since they're an organization empowered to investigate crimes, maybe they should have similar powers to other law enforcement, including the power to keep a warrant application quiet so they can get evidence before someone destroys it.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    ICO seems to have grown some teeth recently

    Long may this continue.

    I don't know if it will start to deal with some of the evil ones who track us from web site to web site when we have explicitly set Do Not Track in our web browser. It would be nice, but I don't know what legal basis it could use.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: ICO seems to have grown some teeth recently

      Unfortunately this action is primarily under PECR that the ICO does very well (probably because it's pretty simple). The DPA component of the action appears to be solely supportive and explanatory.

      The ICO still seems not to be so hot on pure DPA 2018 cases, which are much more complicated but that would be the applicable legislation to "do not track". However you'd be unlikely to get a hearing as a single complainant on that count (I've tried).

  3. TimMaher Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Nominet

    My vote is to expand what the ICO does to take over domain registration in the UK.

    I shall fill in the survey to that effect.

  4. steamnut

    No teeth...

    Fining companies is a weak weapon as they seldom have any assets that can be accessed. Phoenix operations should have been prevented by banning directors but they just rotate the directors at each "rising". The only penalty that will work is prison sentences for these nuisances. Until then expect to see the same players taking the pi$$ out of us and the ICO.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: No teeth...

      "Fining companies is a weak weapon as they seldom have any assets that can be accessed."

      'Limited liability' only shields SHAREHOLDER financial exposure

      Directors can be (and sometimes ARE) held personally responsible for unlawful decisions - but not frequently enough. Other countries routinely nail directors to the wall for this kind of activity

      The ICO and others need to use those teeth

      As for rotating directors: If you suspect that's happening or other fronting is going on, then notify companies house. It's an ever more serious crime than simply directing whilst disqualified

  5. oiseau Silver badge
    Flame

    Bad joke

    ... fined £40,000 by the UK Information Commissioner's Office and ordered to stop doing it.

    Only £40,000?

    If a database was deleted but they found evidence of 9,000 spam emails, be sure that the amount actually sent was at least 10x that.

    A £40,000 fine is a joke, a bad one.

    And what about the scumbag that set up the scheme?

    No prosecution?

    O.

  6. msknight
    Coat

    In other news...

    "Criminals ordered to stop doing criminal things which are against the law."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In other news...

      It does work!

      I read the law that said to stop copying bought CD's onto my computer, because at that time it was illegal, so I stopped doing that!

      So I moved to torrent websites for my music/tv/movies. I read that was illegal, so I stopped using and contributing to a prolific public tracker many many years ago.

      Now I am totally legal and use "private" trackers and a VPN for that content!

      /Anon because.. well...

  7. John Savard Silver badge

    Insufficient

    Fined 40 thousand pounds? Thrown in jail with the key thrown away would make them less likely to do it again. And anyone else too, into the bargain.

    1. Richocet

      Re: Insufficient

      The punishments have to be in proportion to the crime. As an example to consider, the alleged activities of Prince Andrew.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Insufficient

        I have not read any allegations about Prince Andrew that would amount to a criminal offense in the UK.

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