Skip to navigationSkip to content
Cans of Spam on display
Reuters/Issei Kato
A case of getting egg (and Spam) on face.
WHEN SPAM ATTACKS

When spamming goes delightfully wrong

Joon Ian Wong
By Joon Ian Wong

Technology Reporter

A British business suspected of illegally selling phone numbers to spammers thought it would be a good idea to market its services by–what else?–e-mail spamming. One of the addresses on its list belonged to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which is the authority in charge of policing the illegal use of data.

In a case of karmic retribution, the ICO today (June 8) raided a house in Sheffield, where the suspected data piracy business was located, searching for computers and documents. The agency prepared a video, showing four ICO officers heading on the raid. “We know they have sent numerous emails advertising their data for sale, including incredibly, [to] the ICO,” the video explains.

The ICO wouldn’t say what it discovered in the raid because the business remains under investigation. The Sheffield business was believed to be illegally selling lists of personal data, including phone numbers, to marketing agencies to make spam calls, the ICO said in a press release. The business would have contravened the law if it didn’t obtain the data legally, or didn’t have the right to sell it.

The ICO says it has imposed £2.3 million ($3.35 million) in fines in the last year on companies that were responsible for 72 million nuisance calls and 2 million spam text messages. It can impose a fine of up to £500,000 on parties who break data laws.

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.