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 investigation has been carried out, is suspected of having made more than 200 million nuisance calls pushing boiler and window replacement schemes.

It is also accused of having “potentially put people’s safety at risk”, since some calls clogged up the lines of Network Rail’s Banavie Control Centre, which drivers and pedestrians at unmanned level crossings call to check it’s safe to cross.

“These calls have caused millions of people disruption, annoyance and distress, but not only this, those made to a control centre charged with public safety may have endangered lives,” said Ken Macdonald, head of ICO Scotland.

If the business is found to have made the calls, it could be slapped with a hefty fine. The maximum the ICO can issue for such breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations is £500,000.

To date, the largest number of calls found to have been made by a single firm is 146 million, which earned Welsh-based dodgy diallers Your Money Rights a £350,000 fine.

It’s not clear whether the Scottish business knew the ICO was on its way before the raid, although this would be a different approach to that taken for controversial UK data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which found out the ICO was seeking a search warrant from the courts via the UK’s Channel 4 news on Monday night. ®

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