Government teams up with business on Midata scheme

Summary:Midata will present consumer data held by organisations including Google and MasterCard back to individuals in a standardised electronic format

The UK government has teamed up with businesses to support a standard electronic format for consumer personal data.

Midata eye

Midata will present consumer data held by organisations including Google and MasterCard back to individuals in a standardised electronic format. Photo credit: BIS

Firms including Google, MasterCard and Visa have signed up to the Midata scheme, which aims to present personal data to individual consumers in a standardised format, the government announced on Thursday.

"Midata is our project with a range of businesses, consumer groups and regulators to release the data they hold about you, back to you, in a safe, electronic and portable format," said consumer minister Edward Davey in a blog post on Thursday.

"We hope individuals will be able to use this data to gain an insight into their own behaviour, make more informed choices and better decisions, to manage their affairs more efficiently, and to obtain the products and services that best meet their needs," he said.

The data will not be shared between participants of the scheme, only between companies and individual consumers, a Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) spokesman told ZDNet UK on Friday. In addition, companies will not use the data for marketing purposes, said the spokesman.

"It's about developing a standardised format, terminology, and process for sharing data [with consumers]," said the spokesman.

Firms will benefit by having a more open dialogue with customers that will encourage products better tailored to consumer needs, said the spokesman. BIS is working with a number of supermarkets and retail chains to bring them into the scheme, and the department expects to make an announcement about the availability of data in the first three months of 2012.

ICO welcome

Information commissioner Christopher Graham welcomed the Midata scheme on Thursday, saying the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) will work with participants to ensure the scheme complies with the Data Protection Act.

We hope individuals will be able to use this data to gain an insight into their own behaviour, make more informed choices and better decisions.

– Edward Davey, consumer minister

"Midata presents an innovative and empowering opportunity for consumers," Graham said in a statement. "It goes without saying that privacy and data security principles must continue to be upheld and I'm pleased that consumer data security has been a key strand from the outset."

The private-sector organisations that have currently signed up to the scheme are: Billmonitor, British Gas, Callcredit, EDF Energy, E.ON, Garlik, Google, Lloyds Banking Group, MasterCard, Moneysupermarket.com, Mydex, Npower, RBS, Scottish Power, Scottish Southern Energy, The UK Cards Association, Three, Visa, and Voco Secure.

Regulators and consumer groups involved in the project are: Citizens Advice, Communications Consumer Panel, Consumer Focus, the ICO, Ofcom, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), and Which?.

The government set out plans that led to the Midata scheme in April, in its Consumer Empowerment Strategy.


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Topics: Mobility

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Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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