Government tees up customer data access law

The UK government has laid the groundwork for legislation obliging businesses to give customers access to data about their transactions on request.

The Department of Business Innovation and Skills has completed a consultation on the voluntary 'midata' scheme. Businesses participating in the scheme, which include Lloyds Banking Group and British Gas, agree to release "data they hold relating to a consumer’s consumption or transactions in an electronic machine readable format, upon request".

According to a BIS spokesperson, the response to the consultation was broadly positive. While some organisations raised concerns about how it might work in practice, the principle of giving customers greater access to their data was welcomed.

midata will continue as a voluntary scheme, but BIS today announced that it has secured an 'order making power', so that if take-up of the voluntary scheme is not as widespread as hoped, it could introduce legislation to make it mandatory faster than usual.

"'midata’ is all about putting power into the hands of consumers," said employment and consumer affairs minister Jo Swinson. "Many businesses reap huge commercial benefits from the information they gather from consumers’ daily spending patterns. Why shouldn’t consumers also benefit from this by having access to their own data to enable them to make better choices?

“It’s great when your energy provider tells you how much gas or electricity you’re using at any point in the year or when phone companies tell you which one of their tariffs suits you best," Swinson said. "But it’s even better when consumers can use that information to get better value for money deals or adjust their lifestyles."

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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