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New data access rights for consumers

22 Aug 2012 10:35 BST Back
New data access rights for consumers
People covering cards with question marks over their faces

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Businesses could be required to give consumers access to their personal data in a portable electronic format if the Government goes ahead with plans to extend its voluntary midata project. 

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is currently consulting on whether to make it compulsory for businesses to provide electronic versions of the data they hold on customers. This would build on the midata programme.

Under midata, consumers have new rights to access their personal transaction data in a portable electronic format, including household utility use, banking, internet transactions loyalty card data. 

A BIS statement says: “we are consulting on the possibility of taking an order making power. If utilised, this will compel suppliers of services and goods to provide their customers, upon request, historic transaction data in a machine readable format.”  

At present, customers can write to a business to request hard copies of the data it holds on them.

midata is a partnership between the UK Government, consumer groups and major businesses and was launched in 2011 as part of the Government’s consumer empowerment strategy. 

Last year BIS announced that 19 brands, including Google, Royal Bank of Scotland, British Gas and Visa had signed up to the midata scheme. 

Commenting in response to BIS’s consultation on midata, Chris Combemale, executive director of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) said: “We welcome BIS’s progress in pushing forward the midata programme. Companies must now take the initiative to be open and transparent with consumers about the information they hold and how they use it. 

“According to research conducted by the DMA, 85% of consumers would prefer to hold their own personal data and exchange it with companies when they choose. Indeed, more and more consumers view their personal data as a form of capital to be collected and traded for better service, better offers and better long-term benefits. 

“Companies that catch up with this new consumer trend will have to innovate and outdo their competitors to offer the most compelling benefits to consumers to encourage them to share their information. This form of competition-based self-regulation will be the most effective way of giving consumers greater control over their data.”

The DMA will be making a submission to BIS’s midata consultation.

Open Forums are being held at the BIS offices to discuss the consultation. The next one is on Thursday 23 August from 3-5pm. The consultation closes on 10 September 2012. 

Posted by

Smarayda Christoforou

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