TAXPAYER DATA could be purchased by third parties including private companies, researchers and public bodies under proposals being considered by HM Revenue & Customs.
HMRC insisted the data would be “anonymised” with “robust safeguards” and would only be shared where “there is a clear public benefit”, but critics have raised concerns over what would be included and the risk of identification.
The taxman added no final decision has yet been made, and said a “rigorous accreditation process” would be put in place before any details would be made available.
“Those accessing data would be subject to the same confidentiality provisions as HMRC staff, including a criminal sanction for unlawful disclosure of taxpayer information,” an HMRC spokesman said.
“HMRC will be consulting further and will ask for views on whether to charge to cover the costs of processing and providing anonymised data. This would not be charging for the data itself, purely covering the costs of providing it.”
Former Conservative minister David Davis told the Guardian the plans were “borderline insane”.
“The officials who drew this up clearly have no idea of the risks to data in an electronic age,” he added.
“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.”
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Stephen Franklyn of Lithium Systems discusses why accountancy firms should prioritise cyber security and how they can take steps to protect both data and their reputation