Are HMRC planning to sell your data?
An initiative known as Caredata, which provided medical information to third parties, has recently been put on ice following concerns that people could be identified from the “anonymised” information that was being provided, such as postcodes, dates of birth, gender, ethnicity and NHS numbers. It’s surprising then that a similar scheme to provide data, branded by David Davis as “borderline insane” is being considered in regard to certain tax data held by HMRC.
HMRC are already piloting a scheme that provides VAT registration data to credit reference agencies, but it could go even further if plans outlined in the 2014 Budget go ahead. The plans would allow data contained in the VAT register, along with data held in relation to an individual’s personal tax position, to be sold to third parties such as researchers and public bodies. HMRC have not stated what data they will share, but critics are understandably concerned it could include information about tax payment history, income, and other arrangements which could then enable people to be identified. HMRC don’t have a great track record when it comes to looking after taxpayer information as it is, so such concern is understandable.
These new plans are being overseen by David Gauke, Treasury Minister, and are not yet final. They have still managed to spark outrage among the public though, who quite rightly point out that they have not given their consent to their data being shared, and that if HMRC want to raise more money then perhaps they should instead concentrate on collecting the correct tax from everyone. Bernie Ecclestone and his recently discovered “sweetheart deal “ that avoided around £1bn of UK tax may be a good place to start…..
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