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Government launches public consultation on smart data

Smart data review aimed at encouraging new data services to help customers of utilities and banks

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have launched a “smart data review”, in part to find data-driven consumer services providers.

The review, which is seeking input from interested parties, including “developers, intermediaries, regulated companies, consumer organisations and charities”, is due to report its conclusions in the first half of 2019.

The review was announced in a green paper, Modernising consumer markets, published earlier this year. According to a government statement announcing the review, the paper drew attention to “the challenges that consumers face in regulated markets such as financial services, energy or telecoms”.

It added: “For example, we recognised that consumers often struggle to stay on top of their essential service contracts and find it difficult to identify the best deal. Those that do regularly switch have to put in a lot of effort. Those that don’t switch or engage often pay considerably more.”

The government statement said automatic switching services and utility management services can alleviate the problems consumers face with banks and the large privatised utilities.

But such services depend on inaccessible customer data, it said, adding that the review “will enable government and regulators to work together to ensure consumers benefit from new technologies that can strengthen competition, transform the consumer experience, and modernise consumer markets”.

It said the review “will build upon existing interventions, such as open banking, midata, and the UK’s new data protection laws – these introduce a new right to data portability that allows people to have their personal data given to them or a third party of their choice in a commonly used machine-readable format”.

Read more about the UK government and data strategy

Under Article 20 of the GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation], data portability is the right of EU data subjects – citizens or residents of any EU member nation – “to receive the personal data concerning him or her, which he or she has provided to a controller, in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format and have the right to transmit that data to another controller without hindrance from the controller to which the personal data have been provided”.

The review will report to the newly established Consumer Forum, chaired by the minister for consumer affairs, which brings together ministers and industry regulator CEOs. It will also look at lessons to be learned from already existing data portability initiatives.

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