back to article Data protection scofflaws failed to pay £2m in fines from UK watchdog – and 68% of penalties are still outstanding

Scofflaws have failed to pay nearly £2m in fines handed out by the UK Information Commissioner's Office over the past 18 months, according to new research. Between January 2019 and August 2020, the ICO issued a total of £3.2m in monetary penalty notices but just £1.03m has been paid, according to research from SMS API biz The …

  1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    So why not...

    So why not start fining the controlling persons rather than the corporate entity itself?

    1. Refugee from Windows

      Re: So why not...

      Those corporate entities will just respawn as another "brass plaque" enterprise with no assets, to do exactly the same again. Hit the board with the fines, even it just bans them from holding another position until it's paid.

      1. Lee D

        Re: So why not...

        There is literally a recent law that allows the ICO in particular to do exactly that - chase the former company directors as a personal liability.

        They just don't use the damn thing.

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: So why not...

          "They just don't use the damn thing."

          The problem is that they probably can't.

          The ICO's "fines" are only administrative penalties, not fines as sentences, as breaches of the DPA are not criminal offences (which is why they don't go to court).

          Were it possible, the DPA should be brought under the umbrella of criminal law. If someone fraudulently extracts money from your credit card account, that's a criminal act. If someone facilitates the fraud, that's also a criminal act. But if a business carelessly leaks your credit card details to a fraudster, under the DPA that's not a criminal act.

          Bizarre, isn't it.

    2. sitta_europea

      Re: So why not...

      "So why not start fining the controlling persons rather than the corporate entity itself?"

      Exactly the sort of thing I tried to get the Minister to accept twenty years ago as a possible way of preventing the typical scenario where a limited company goes bust owing me money, and then starts up as a new company the following day in the same premises with the same people and the same stock - much of which I had supplied and never got paid for.

      The Minister was not persuaded. Apparently I did not "assist my case" by claiming that this sort of thing goes on all the time, providing evidence only from about a dozen companies who had done it to me in the past couple of years.

      Anyway, after a long and fruitless correspondence the Minister was sent to prison for perjury.

      Yes, that Minister.

      It was more or less at that point that I gave up on the whole fucking lot of them.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Send in the Bailiffs

    then sue the directors. Put them on the banned list.

    It seems that the ICO says 'Job Done' when they get issue the fines. They really need to be more agressive in chasing up the scumbags.

    1. Stephen Wilkinson

      Re: Send in the Bailiffs

      And then their wife, personal other etc. etc. becomes the director and it carries on :(

  3. Andy Non Silver badge

    Good luck getting the scumbags to pay

    Every week or so I get a call to my mobile with "I understand you were involved in an accident that wasn't your fault. Is that right?". Previously I've either played along to wind them up or just told them to go f**k themselves. I note that if you continue there is a delay of a few seconds then you find yourself talking to someone in an Indian call centre. No chance of stopping or fining them. Different number every time. As I do get some legitimate calls from unknown numbers, I can't really block all unknown numbers.

    Interestingly, after the last such call, the penny dropped that the pleasant sounding woman making the initial call with an English accent is really a bot. Her question is loaded to get a yes or no reply. Until now I've just told them to go f**k themselves and hung up, but it is clearly wasted on a bot. So the correct response is to say "Yes, that's right" and when she says "Can you tell me a little bit more about the accident" the bot is probably looking for keywords related to an accident. So I plan to test this theory on the next call by saying "I was driving to work last Saturday and stopped at a junction when the traffic lights turned red and I was hit from behind by a speeding elephant". If the call then gets transferred to an Indian call centre it will confirm the initial conversation is with a bot. Then I can proceed as normal and question the man in the call centre about his sexual deviant habits.

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Good luck getting the scumbags to pay

      I always find that "Yes, and the driver for [big, well known company] was drunk as lord" usually gets a result.

      Sadly my imagination quickly runs out and I find refuge in invective. For a while though, I imagine I am I am on way to stardom as a troll's troll.

    2. 0laf

      Re: Good luck getting the scumbags to pay

      It' s not a bot it's just a recording with gaps for you to speak.

      If you say nothing the recording continues merrily. I think that's just not fair, at least with a scumbag on the end you get to irritate them and waste their time by spinning them on a bit.

  4. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "it's worth noting that when nuisance-call companies go out of business, they stop making calls. And that's a successful outcome."

    Except they phoenix and carry on

    fucking jobsworths

  5. steamnut

    Freeze 'em

    Why not give the ICO the power to freeze the company bank accounts and put a lien on all property at the time the judgement is handed down? Even better, when the court case is started, add a lien on all property and bank accounts to prevent disposal of assets afterwards.

    It's a bit draconian but we could also look at giving the directors criminal records and putting personal CCJ's against the Directors or owners.

    Unless more real power is given to the ICO then it is just a waste of time and (our) money.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scofflaws have failed to pay nearly £2m in fines

    They should apply for covid discount, and keep re-applying, until the fine's reduced to near zero.

  7. katrinab Silver badge


    "it's worth noting that when nuisance-call companies go out of business, they stop making calls. And that's a successful outcome."

    They don't set up another company to do exactly the same thing?

  8. Tubz

    ICO is a useless quango and should be shutdown and a replacement with a enforcement agency with teeth and deadline set in stone for payment of fines and more. Time scum companies start taking privacy for real.

  9. JCitizen

    I learned a long time ago..

    To use a call blocking device or service, and if the spammers get past that, I simply don't answer the phone. I used to be able to tailor my voice mail to confuse crooks too; but the phone company took that over. Needless to say, my incidence of unwanted calls disappeared for a long time and even now, I rarely get any unknown origin calls. Once in a great while I take the chance and take the call - but fortunately they are wrong number accidents from people I actually know, but don't normally communicate with. I'm taking a big chance doing that, though, because spammers can transmit fake caller IDs, and have had that capability for some time.

    It also helps to have a very long voice mail answer time set, because the spammer automated system gives up sooner - once that happens, that number goes into a "never call again" file, as a dead number - which is just gravy for me! In fact the original blocking service does that anyway to robot callers; only determined human callers get through. I sincerely hope the spammers don't discover a way to get past the signaling the blocking services use, because it will be all bets off after that.

  10. GeekyDee

    call scammers?

    Need to hold the companies providing the IP telephony gateways to them liable as well. Also need to really either create a secure system to consumers or create a true ip verification pingback to verify the calls

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