Government outlines consumer data plans


High street retailers and supermarkets may be forced to provide consumers with an electronic copy of data on their purchases and spending habits under new Government proposals, it was announced late yesterday.

In its proposal, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) highlighted the plethora of opportunities that giving consumers access to their own personal data would bring, suggesting that the move will “promote growth across the wider economy”.

While members of the public can currently request such information under the Freedom of Information Act, the midata programme outlined by BIS would speed up this process, giving consumers access to data created through their household utility use, banking, internet transactions and retail loyalty cards.

Norman Lamb, Consumer Minister, said: “Midata will allow consumers greater insight into their everyday consumption and lifestyle habits by using applications and intermediaries to analyse their actual behaviours and thereby empower them to make better spending choices and secure the best deals.

“This will boost competition between companies in terms of value and service, and stimulate innovation in new data management tools and systems.”

Last year, the Government signed up 26 organisations which agreed to core principles about data release, though BIS believes that faster progress is vital in order for consumers to fully benefit from its vision.

Lamb concluded: “We want the UK to be at the forefront of the data analytics and information services market that is rapidly growing with huge international potential.

“However, it‘s crucial that we engage with business and consumers to ensure that we do this in the right way.”