Midata – is it their data or your data?

Today the  Consumer Affairs Minister will announce powers for us to request our personal data, including transactions, from business so as to better manage our affairs. I find it odd that none of the three sectors selected for participation is represented in the DWP IDAP trials (unless you count the US Phone Giant Verizon - which does not have much of a UK footprint anyway).

So who has the IPR in that data, us or the supplier?

What duty of care to they owe to us if an impersonator uses it to collect sufficient to FOG (fraudulently obtain genuine) trusted credentials in our name under the IDAP programme?

What is the liability of HMG under the e-Signatures regulation if those credentials are used in support of, for example, cross-border benefit fraud?

In this context I note that there is no BIS minister among the named signatories to the new Fighting Fraud Together strategy. I suspect that this well-intentioned BIS consumer "protection" initiative

- like our regulatory regimes designed by compliance officers as job creation schemes for compliance officers and -

our tax regimes designed by lawyers and accountants to create work for lawyers and accountant -

will further help serve to drive on-line business off-shore - into the arms of those who are outside our regulatory regimes and pay no tax in the UK.

There appears to be no forum for joined up, well-informed debate on such issues other than the Digital Policy Alliance (the relaunch of EURIM being undertaken by my successor).

I am now only an advisor but on Monday I am due to take part in a teleconference on forward plans to look at issues that are now urgent, as well as important, if the UK is to have an on-line future as a base for wealth creating and tax paying businesses and jobs - not just as a milch cow for those based overseas.

I will argue that all those who wish to be good (and profitable) UK business residents (paying a "fair", not just "legal" tax contribution) should be encouraged to join the DPA to help lead the relevant working groups, alongside those who cannot realistically leave the UK, who like John Lewis, claim they are being discriminated against .

[That will not be an easy argument for US-based multinationals with policies driven (ultimately) by quarterly briefings for fund-managers. In one of my previous blogs on the issues of trust I responded to a contribution from the Head of Risk at one of the world's largest fund managers on why, however, good citizenship makes good long run sense for those who can afford to see beyond the quarterly review. One of the nations I covered (during my five years as corporate planner for a UK based high tech multi-national) cut its corporation tax bill to us by 75% after I explained that the numbers did not add up with regard to the new factory we had long been planning in a marginal constituency. Our local Finance Director could not (? would not) subsequently explain how and why. The following year we built the factory, quadrupling the number of local employees. The Government's overall tax take, including  local and export sales taxes as well as property, payroll and incomes taxes, went up. They, like many other nations but unlike HMG and Treasury, took a holistic view].

Hence my reasoning is that we need BOTH the multi-national based overseas and the locally based players groups to engage in not only well-informed and constructive debate and (perhaps more important) joined up political campaigning) in order to ensure that the UK has a future as an outward looking part of a global economy - not just part of an over-taxed, over-regulated, introverted, protectionist, EU.

That does not mean I believe the UK should necessarily leave the EU - "merely" that turning round debate in Brussels as well as in the UK requires a commitment (including to work with allies in other members states) that is lacking.

I do hope that my successor will be more successful that I was. I hasten to add that I am now only an advisor - and he is quite adept at telling me, politely, to sod off.

Editor's Note:

Midata is the name for the voluntary programme of work which the UK Government is undertaking with leading businesses, consumer groups and regulators. It means businesses will release data that they hold about customers back to them.