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Pro body concerned about open data plans

30 September 2013
Issue: 4422 / Categories: News , Admin

Strictest safeguards may not protect identities, warns CIOT president

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has expressed concern about HMRC’s plans to increase the amount of data they put in the public domain or release to credit reference agencies.

The professional body acknowledged that the Revenue operates in an increasingly digital environment but stressed that taxpayer data falls into the category of personal data, rather than open.

Such information is private and subject to stringent UK and EU legislation, meaning its publication could undermine trust between taxman and taxpayer, the CIOT advised.

The institute’s president, Stephen Coleclough, said, “Taxpayers’ records are personal data and must be outside the scope of data sharing. Taxpayer confidentiality and the avoidance of damage caused by data-release must take precedence over benefits of open data.

“HMRC’s proposals seek to use personal data in an anonymised or aggregated way but, in reality, this is extremely difficult without exposing individuals to identification with their personal data. We are concerned at how much detailed information is already published by the tax department,” added Coleclough.

He went on to warn that the most strict safeguards and deterrents may not be sufficient to prevent the misuse of data and identification of taxpayers.

“This is dangerous territory, and [HMRC] must progress with significant caution and sustained consultation because once the data genie is out of the bottle, it cannot be put back,” said the CIOT president.

“If the proposals were to proceed in any shape or form, then, as a minimum, not only should the current criminal sanctions for unauthorised disclosure be extended to anyone who knowingly receives this data, but those sanctions must also be enforced and backed by a statutory right to damages.”

Issue: 4422 / Categories: News , Admin
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