Having been on the register and slashdot I see interesting comments, including a few questioning the legality of what I am doing to wind up the junk callers. I appreciate the concern people are showing and I think we are OK...
Just to start, it is very clear that the callers are breaking the law. Marketing calls to TPS listed numbers is illegal as are marketing calls using auto-diallers that have recorded message rather than live voice. So illegal on two counts. They also typically refuse to properly identify themselves which is (I believe) breach of Companies Act.
The law is not that daft. For a start, it is EU wide, which covers a lot of off-shore call centres. But the law covers the party instigating the call as well as the party making the call and the party allowing their "line" to be used to make the call. So even if it is an off-shore marketing company making calls, the UK company contracting them (or maybe even just encouraging them by offering commission) is liable. These calls are all UK specific covering: UK cheap calls, UK legislation on debt relief, and UK legislation covering mis-sold insurance. So UK companies are involved. UK companies are committing an offense. It is not 100% clear to me if the individual call centre staff (if in UK) are breaking the law, but I would hope so. After all, if you are employed to break in to someone's house that does not mean it is not you breaking the law.
Unfortunately, just because they are criminals does not quite mean we can do what we like.
1. Can we record the calls? The law used to be pretty simple - if one party knew the call was recorded then that was OK. It is more complex now, but from various guidance I have read a company can record calls for various reasons (including detecting and preventing crime) and an individual can record their calls anyway.
2. Do we need consent to record calls. I don't believe so - we are entitled to record the call. Various guidance suggests we should state the call is recorded at the start, which we do (their choice not to listen to that). Whilst their recording cannot give "consent" to be recorded we don't actually need consent as far as I am aware. We also publicly state on our web site that such calls are recorded.
Bear in mind that if recording the call is a problem some how, we can play them at their game, routing the call to some other country and recording it where there is no law against it. Isn't voice over IP magic :-)
3. Can we publish the recording? Well it is our copyright as we made it. But there are data protection implications, maybe. The DPA only applies to personal data, which means the data (call recording) relates to an identifiable living individual. I, as data controller, cannot identify the individual and think it very unlikely I ever will. As such, I am pretty sure they are not DPA material (well, apart from my voice in the call, and I give my consent to publication). Now, if someone can identify the individual and cares to impart that information to me as data controller then maybe the call recording becomes personal data at that point. If that happens I will, of course, comply with the Act and (if they ask) remove the recording from the web site. I will, of course sue them for civil damages for their criminal act and report them to the authorities and also try to get a court order requiring them to disclose their employer details. So please, someone complain about the recording and provide details that allow me to identify the individual :-)
4. Can we wind them up and waste their time? I don't think that is against any law. They control the time they choose to spend on the call, not us, anyway.
5. Can we TPS register our new number blocks? I am happy for the company to assign 4 million numbers to be as an individual subscriber if necessary (and for me to hand back as the company "sells" them to other subscribers). That would allow them all to be TPS registered legitimately.
If anyone thinks any law makes what I am doing illegal or even a civil wrong in some way, please do let me know (and cite references). If there is anything wrong we can probably work around it.
So, thanks all for your concern.