The UK government has amended the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (“Bill”) to include provisions to aid the implementation of its midata strategy. These provisions reflect the Government’s desire for customers to have access to details of transactions regarding the purchase of goods and services in an open standard electronic format (so-called “midata”) which they can then use to inform future purchasing decisions.

The Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) currently gives customers the right to access their data in “an intelligible form”. However, as the format of that data is to be determined by the provider it may be provided in hard copy rather than in a portable electronic format.

The new provisions will enable the Secretary of State to make secondary legislation compelling suppliers of certain goods and services to provide personal historical transaction and/or consumption data (defined as “customer data” in the Bill) to their customers in an electronic format which is to be specified in the secondary legislation.The power will initially focus on certain “core” sectors: energy, mobile phones, current accounts and credit cards but may be extended to regulate other sectors in due course. The Bill is currently in the Committee stage in the House of Lords.

Whilst concerns have been raised by businesses as to the additional regulatory and financial burden of complying with midata requests from consumers, the requirement to provide personal data in an open standard electronic format (the so-called “data portability” requirement) is one of the key proposed reforms in the proposed Data Protection Regulation currently being debated by the European Parliament (“Regulation”). Businesses which invest in effective systems to process midata requests will therefore be better placed to implement the measures necessary to comply with personal data requests if the data portability provisions are retained in the final form Regulation.

Link to the Bill: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2012-2013/0089/2013089.pdf

Link to the Regulation: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/document/review2012/com_2012_11_en.pdf