By Daniel Hunter

The Government today (Wednesday) highlights its proposals for the ground breaking midata programme, as part of its ongoing consultation and progress review which sets out measures to provide it with a legal framework.

The Government is committed to putting the UK at the forefront of this rapidly developing market which is why the consultation proposes introducing a power that, when exercised, would give new rights to consumers to access their personal transaction data in an electronic, portable and machine-readable format.

midata was launched in April 2011 as part of Government’s consumer empowerment strategy, Better Choices: Better Deals. The programme is a partnership between the UK Government, consumer groups and major businesses aimed at giving consumers access to the data created through their household utility use, banking, internet transactions and high street loyalty cards.

Allowing people to access and use this personal data has the potential to open up a wealth of opportunities for consumers and businesses, promoting growth across the wider economy.

Consumer Minister, Norman Lamb said:

“It’s clear to me that giving consumers the right to access their own transaction data promises huge opportunities for both consumers themselves and UK businesses.

“midata will allow consumers greater insight into their everyday consumption and lifestyle habits by using applications and intermediaries to analyse their actual behaviours and thereby empower them to make better spending choices and secure the best deals. This will boost competition between companies in terms of value and service, and stimulate innovation in new data management tools and systems.”

“We want the UK to be at the forefront of the data analytics and information services market that is rapidly growing with huge international potential. However, it’s crucial that we engage with business and consumers to ensure that we do this in the right way.”

Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Chair of the midata programme, said:

“The ability for individuals to manage their own data for their own purposes has the potential to unleash significant personal, social, civic and economic benefits. Empowering consumers in this way will help to build an efficient, innovative 21st century economy”

Graham Donoghue, Managing Director of Financial Services,, said:

“ welcomes the midata initiative with open arms and is pleased to be involved along with other companies in developing the programme. As the UK’s leading price comparison site, helping consumers to get a better deal and take control of their finances is at the core of what we do. Allowing people to access their own data in easy to use formats will certainly help more people make the most of their money on a huge range of products and services.”

In November 2011 the Government launched its vision for midata. 26 organisations signed up to help achieve that vision and today’s review shows that important progress has been made, with participants agreeing core principles about data release, publishing research into customer attitudes and beginning work on important questions of privacy and security.

The energy sector has blazed the trail, with many suppliers already giving customers electronic access to their transaction data and others to follow soon.

These are encouraging developments but the Government believes that the significant advantages on offer for consumers and the economy mean that faster progress to achieve midata’s vision is crucial.

The consultation explores the option of taking an order-making power to ensure Government has the flexibility to act if the voluntary approach proves too slow. We are looking for information to help us get the details right so we can have an effective implementation of midata that will remain relevant in the future. Further consultation would be needed before the power could be exercised through secondary legislation.

The Government welcomes responses from business, consumer groups, regulators and members of the public by 10th September 2012.

The midata project team in the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills will be inviting stakeholders to participate in a series of consultation events over the coming weeks to give interested parties opportunities to make their views known.

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