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Technology / Data

ICO Raids Offices Suspected of 200 Million Nuisance Calls

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) may be taking its own sweet time to raid the offices of Cambridge Analytica (saying that a High Court judge “has adjourned the ICO’s application for a warrant”), but it has managed to raid offices near Glasgow, suspected of making over 200 million illegal nuisance calls.

Computer equipment and documents were seized for analysis during the search. The ICO has powers to issue fines of up to £500,000 for breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. Ken Macdonald, Head of ICO Scotland, said: “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.”

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The 200 million plus calls the firm is suspected of making is one of the highest volumes the ICO has ever executed a search warrant in relation to.

Tom Harwood, Chief Product Officer and co-founder at UK-based voice security specialists Aeriandi told Computer Business Review: “This number is the equivalent of phoning every individual in the UK more than three times! Most will have fallen victim to the ‘opt out of marketing’ tick box exercise we see on so many forms these days.

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He added: “Internet telephony, particularly Voice over IP (VoIP) services such as Skype, has dramatically reduced the cost of making phone calls.  Add in an automation platform and you have the ability to run an operation that – remarkably – can make 200 million recorded calls and still turn a profit. Unfortunately, this reduces consumer trust in telephone calls from legitimate businesses.  The same technical advances, however, provide us with a range of tools to defend against this, including secure ways of providing credit card details using the telephone keypad, voice fraud detection and speech analytics.  These are becoming increasingly important in the fight against telephone spam callers.”


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