You are of course familiar with the Government’s endeavours to encourage the people of Britain to co-operate more with one another, and to take responsibility instead of relying on the authority of the State: a vision which David Cameron labels the “Big Society”. Lately the Government has launched a new programme called “midata”, which aims to increase consumers’ access to their personal data in a portable, electronic format, therefore enabling them to “gain insight into their own behaviour, make informed choices about products and services, and manage their lives more efficiently.” In turn, this will hopefully boost competition between companies (in terms of value and service) and drive innovation. In addition, if the dialogue between consumers and businesses is improved, it may facilitate the development of new personal information services and tools, and in turn create a new environment of trust and co-operation.
This may all sound very idealistic, but a number of businesses and organisations have already committed to working in partnership with Government to achieve the midata vision: voco Secure; billmonitor; British Gas; Callcredit; EDF Energy; E.ON; Garlik; Google; Lloyds Banking Group; MasterCard; Moneysupermarket.com; Mydex; Npower; RBS; Scottish Power; Scottish Southern Energy; The UK Cards Association; Three; and Visa. And a number of consumer groups and regulators are working with midata to represent consumers’ interests and concerns. As well as working towards potential benefits, their input plays an important role in identifying potential risks and helping determine how these can be addressed. Participants include: Citizens Advice; Communications Consumer Panel; Consumer Focus; Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO); OFCOM; Office of Fair Trading (OFT); and Which?