The UK data protection regulator, the ICO, has issued its largest ever fine on the company behind 46 million automated nuisance calls. Prodial Ltd, a lead generation firm, has been fined £350,000. The maximum fine which the ICO is entitled to levy under the UK’s Data Protection Act 1998 is £500,000.

The automated calls played recorded messages relating to payment protection insurance (PPI) claims. Over 1,000 people have complained to the ICO about these repeated calls at all times of the day and night that often failed to provide an opt-out option. 

The ICO has reported that Prodial Ltd was operating out of a residential property in Brighton and hiding its identity, making it hard for people to report these calls. Moreover, an investigation has found that Prodial never obtained the required consent to contact people through the means of Internet phone lines – which allows companies to make enormous numbers of recorded marking calls cheaply. It is illegal to contact people in this way without specific consent. 

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has delivered the following very clear message in response to Prodial’s illegal invasion of people’s privacy:

This is one of the worst cases of cold calling we have ever come across. The volume of calls made in just a few months was staggering.

This was a company that knew it was breaking the law. A company director admitted that once the ICO became involved, the company shut down. That stopped the calls, but we want to send a clear message to other firms that this type of law-breaking will not pay. That is why we have handed out our highest ever fine.

No matter what companies do to try to avoid the law, we will find a way to act.