BIS consults on new right of access to consumer data

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a consultation on giving consumers the right to access their data in portable, machine-readable form, and making companies provide access to that information. The proposals would affect private sector companies providing goods and services.

Giving individuals information about their own transactions would enable them to make savings or find services better suited to their needs as data could be utilised, for example, by price comparison sites, the BIS says.

The Secretary of State would be given powers to compel suppliers to provide personal transaction data relating to their purchase and/or consumption of products and services. The BIS argues that this would allow a much more targeted approach towards access to personal data than is currently available with the Subject Access Right under the Data Protection Act. The data would relate only to transactions, for example, consumers' purchase and/or consumption of products and services from that supplier, and would cover only factual information, for example what a consumer bought.

The new requirement would apply only to businesses that already hold this type of information electronically.

A key DP question is whether a third party, authorised by the consumer, should be able to seek the consumer’s data in electronic format directly from the supplier. The Information Commissioner’s Office or a consumer protection body would be responsible for enforcing the proposed new access regime.

The consultation closes on 10 September 2012.