By Maximilian Clarke

The Government has joined forces with 26 major organisations to help consumers access their own personal data in a move that is hoped will usher in ‘a new era of consumer empowerment’.

Named midata, the scheme is a voluntary programme the Government is undertaking with industry, which over time will give consumers increasing access to their personal data in a portable, electronic format. Individuals will then be able to use this data to gain insights into their own behaviour, make more informed choices about products and services, and manage their lives more efficiently.

Consumer watchdogs have welcomed the news and the predicted boost it will give to consumer confidence at this crucial juncture.

“Consumer data is an incredibly valuable commodity and the amount of data kept and used is set to grow as people increasingly use online and digital services,” said Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive of Consumer Focus.

“This data should not just benefit the businesses and services who collect it. Midata is an important initiative that could help people retrieve and re-use their own personal data for their own benefit.

“But there is also the risk of serious consumer detriment if data is lost, leaked, misused or stolen. Protecting consumer data will be the pass or fail criteria for this initiative.

“We look forward to working with Government, industry and other consumer bodies to realise the potential benefits of midata, identify possible risks and make sure the right protections are put in place.’

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