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GDPR - Big Brother is watching you...

View profile for Tracey Dickens
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The research of a privacy watchdog, Big Brother Watch, has identified that HMRC is capturing voice biometric information without being transparent about its use or giving users the ability to opt out of providing that data.

Big Brother Watch says taxpayers are being “railroaded into a mass ID scheme” as there is no choice to opt out of the data capture, which is regarded as a breach of data protection law. As a consequence the Information Commissioner’s Office, the regulatory body, is now investigating the claims. The key issue is that HMRC gets millions of callers to their automated phone service to commit their voice to becoming their password for future access to the phone service. The problem is users are not being told how the data will be used and as the particular data is not necessary for dealing with a callers tax affairs, then HMRC actually requires explicit consent from each person to be compliant with Article 9 of the GDPR, which deals with special categories of data such as this biometric data. 
HMRC has commented that the system is very popular, providing quick and secure access to its systems. It is a strong reminder that while good intentions to use modern technology to solve a password requirement might seem a sensible approach, at the heart of any decision organisations need to be aware of the legal requirements for obtaining and processing such data. This is very much the purpose of GDPR, bringing data to the forefront of the decision making process.
If you are concerned or have any questions about GDPR in your business, please do not hesitate to contact me for more information on 01206 217326 or alternatively you can email me at