HMRC 'plans to share tax data with private firms'

 
HM Revenue & Customs logo HMRC says further consultation on the plans will take place

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Taxpayers' personal data could be shared with private firms under plans drawn up by Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

If given the go-ahead it would allow HMRC to release anonymous tax data to third parties including companies, researchers and public bodies.

But former Conservative minister David Davis told the Guardian the plans were "borderline insane".

An HMRC spokesman said "no final decisions" had been taken, and it was committed to "confidentiality".

'Defies logic'

The newspaper reported that "charging options" were being examined by officials, suggesting that firms could pay to access the data.

But concern has been raised over the plans in the wake of the Care.data initiative - a proposed anonymous sharing of NHS medical records - which is currently suspended after fears were raised as to exactly what information would remain anonymous.

Start Quote

You would have hoped HMRC would have learned that trying to sneak plans like this under the radar is not the way to build trust or develop good policy”

End Quote Emma Carr Big Brother Watch

Plans to relax the laws around HMRC data-sharing - which are being overseen by Treasury minister David Gauke - were first consulted on in July last year, but HMRC said "further consultations" would also be taking place.

Mr Davis told the Guardian: "The officials who drew this up clearly have no idea of the risks to data in an electronic age.

"Our forefathers put these checks and balances in place when the information was kept in cardboard files, and data was therefore difficult to appropriate and misuse.

"It defies logic that we would remove those restraints at a time when data can be collected by the gigabyte, processed in milliseconds and transported around the world almost instantaneously."

Emma Carr, deputy director of civil rights campaign group, Big Brother Watch, said: "The ongoing claims about anonymous data overlook the serious risks to privacy of individual level data being vulnerable to re-identification.

"Given the huge uproar about similar plans for medical records, you would have hoped HMRC would have learned that trying to sneak plans like this under the radar is not the way to build trust or develop good policy."

'Unlawful disclosure'

A HMRC spokesman said: "HMRC would only share data where this would generate clear public benefits, and where there are robust safeguards in place.

"Last year's consultation made it very clear that there would be a rigorous accreditation process for anyone wanting access to the data and that any access would take place in a secure environment.

"Those accessing data would be subject to the same confidentiality provisions as HMRC staff, including a criminal sanction for unlawful disclosure of taxpayer information."

 

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  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 329.

    interesting that it becomes news on Good Friday, trying to tuck it away un-noticed eh?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 328.

    Not happy?
    Write to your MP.
    Whatever party they are.

    Tell them you will not vote for them if this goes through.
    Tell them to stand up and make a scene in Parliament.
    Tell them to ask the questions

    Get these lazy troughers working for you for a change.

    Go on, do it now.
    Doesn't have to be an epic.
    Just a few lines, telling them that you have had enough.

    Do it here. https://www.writetothem.com/

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 327.

    The EU has Data Protection legislation in place. If we cannot sidestep other EU legislation, why does HMRC think we can do so in this instance?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 326.

    I am not a number, I am a free man... yeah and Earth is hexagonal, Putin is a fantastic leader and UKIP have all the answers to save us from ourselves! What has happened to this world in the last twenty years?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 325.

    HMRC propose to sell anonymised data to third parties? Not mine,not without my permission. This on the back of the flawed care data roll out? If this goes forward then there has to be a solid, audit-able right for individuals to opt out.

    Perhaps Government is trying to create a market where our data can be used by contractors to connect up and police entitlements, e.g. benefits, and so on…

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 324.

    how can you trust HMRC when they let a government minister off shore the profits from her BTL empire and say she has not broken the law , what about the spirit of the law . HMRC is no longer a fit and proper office

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 323.

    HMRC have decided in their opinion this is 'legal', well in my opinion that I wont be paying anymore taxes.

    I think they need to be more careful. Its 'illegal' to finance a corrupt regime.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 322.

    This just shows why you should never trust the Tories. If they could sell off the Crown Jewels they would.

    Roll on the next election in 2015, it can't come soon enough for me.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 321.

    Try signing on,, in this day and age, and not giving the Government access to your government Gateway account.

    IDS, don't like it.....

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 320.

    Information sold to a private firm may not be a problem in itself. The moment that firm has access to other information and can get a match they have you. Pretty much every government sector has been in trouble for letting info slip in one way or another. It is doomed from the start and must be squashed. How dare HMRC consider selling private information taken from me by law.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 319.

    We all know that HMRC's powers are vast and ledgendary. However we also know about Absolute Power Corrupting Absolutely. Yet another example of civil servants forgetting who employs them. This idea sounds like a 'late Friday afternoon' jobby. Where the dopey team leader reminds his/her equally dopey staff "We MUST come up with SOMETHING". Please file in Folder 13, for review 2020.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 318.

    This is illegal under European Regulations and the UK can be forced under the penalties of huge fines to outlaw such a practice - just as it is being forced to address the issue of polluted air that is the cause of so much death and suffering in the UK - of course if we left Europe then they can do what they like....

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 317.

    What is the data protection act for? Students have their info sold for marketing purposes too. This just stinks.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 316.

    The Lunatics have taken over the Asylum...

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 315.

    Well that all seems fine...wait, oh no it doesn't! How dare anyone plan to sell our details without asking our permission? There are many ways to identify people through anonymous details...how else would the police function for a start? This is wrong.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 314.

    If only this was true ...

    298. fatdad001
    ..We share our information with government confidentially. We have data protection laws to ensure it is not misused..

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 313.

    A HMRC spokesman said: "HMRC would only share data where this would generate clear public benefits, and where there are robust safeguards in place."

    Let me tell the HMRC there will NEVER be a public benefit of sharing my info or data.

    The mind boggles at the stupidity of some folk.

  • rate this
    +39

    Comment number 312.

    We have an obligation to provide HMRC with accurate information. They should not then in turn sell access to that same information to third parties with commercial interests.

    .... in exactly the same way that insurance companies should be stopped from selling your details to ambulance chasing legal firms after an accident.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 311.

    All DC and co think about is money, money, money. This is yet another way of generating it at our expense. The sooner this disgusting shower are booted out the better.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 310.

    I interpret this as the best way to maintain your privacy is to not pay any tax.

 

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