6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Business & Professional Life today CLICK HERE

HMRC under fire for alleged breach of data protection laws

PUBLISHED: 16:19 07 August 2018

Tax expert Owen Kyffin, director of Whitley Simpson

Tax expert Owen Kyffin, director of Whitley Simpson

Archant

HMRC is under investigation by the Information Commissioner following a complaint that the tax authority has breached data protection laws by saving taxpayers’ voices without their consent

The privacy watchdog Big Brother Watch alleges that HMRC has collected 5.1 million taxpayers’ voiceprints in this manner.

Tax expert Owen Kyffin, director of Whitley Simpson, which is one of the largest accountancy practices in the area with offices in Banbury, Bicester, High Wycombe and Witney, explains: “Callers to HMRC are told to repeat the phrase: ‘My voice is my password’ on an automated phone line before being able to access the department’s services. Big Brother Watch claims this amounts to ‘being railroaded into a mass ID scheme’, as callers are not given the choice to opt in or out.”

After members of the public raised concerns, Big Brother Watch tested the system and found there is no option for callers to opt out of the ID scheme, or have their voiceprint securely deleted. They also claim that the HMRC has refused to disclose which other government departments the voice IDs have been shared with, how the IDs are stored and used, whether it is possible to delete a voice ID, which legal territory the data is kept in, how much the scheme has cost taxpayers, or the legally-required “privacy impact assessment”.’ The watchdog submitted Freedom of Information requests that revealed just how much data has been gathered.

Owen continues: “HMRC insists callers access their information in this way: those that refuse are repeatedly instructed by the automated line, ‘It’s important you repeat exactly the same phrase - please say “My voice is my password’. Big Brother Watch claims the process amounts to collecting biometric data ‘by the back door’”.

These voice IDs could allow ordinary citizens to be identified by government agencies across other areas of their private lives. The watchdog also claims the security of voice ID is dubious, citing a BBC investigation last year where a reporter was able to trick HSBC’s system into allowing access to a bank account. A spokesperson at the Information Commissioner’s Office said: ‘We have received a complaint about HMRC’s voice ID scheme and will be making enquiries.’

Whitley Stimpson has a team of specialists who advise on tax matters for businesses and individuals. For further details, please contact Owen Kyffin, on 01295 220914 or owenK@whitleystimpson.co.uk.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Cotswold Life

People travel from far and wide to visit the Cotswolds at Christmas. We’ve compiled 24 reasons why you should join them.

Read more
60 minutes ago

Ben Miller tells Katie Jarvis why he loves Kemble Station, the New Inn at Coln and the village of Bagenden...and how he still hasn’t met Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen

Read more

Celebrate the other side of Yuletide in the South Gloucestershire village of Marshfield, where on Boxing Day a curious procession from another age can be seen making its way along the High Street...

Read more

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more

The weekend is fast approaching and for those still deciding how to spend their Friday through to Sunday, we pick 5 of the best ways to spend your weekend in the Cotswolds

Read more
Friday, December 14, 2018

The Cotswolds are abundant with picture perfect locations ideal for a ramble. Gather loved ones, wrap up warm and blow away the cobwebs with one of these winter walks in the region

Read more
Friday, December 14, 2018

Helping clients through divorce, separation and disputes over children, we talk to 8 divorce lawyers in the Cotswolds

Read more
Friday, December 14, 2018

We’ve some extraordinary, and inspiring, women in business in the Cotswolds. We talk to 7 female trailblazers in local industry who offer the business advice they’ve lived by

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Swan Lake. We know the music, we know the iconic imagery of the beautiful ballerina dressed as a swan, but I’m guessing that without reading the libretto in the program, most people don’t know the story. Which is why the audience relies on the dancers to tell us.

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tom and Louise are being joined by other new academic appointments that have been made as part of the RAU’s £2.5 million initiative to help meet the future needs of the land management and agri-food sectors

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

“To win this prestigious award is a real compliment to the wider team in Renishaw’s manufacturing services operation, particularly when we consider the achievements of the other excellent shortlisted companies.”

Read more
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Stepping up to receive the world’s first MBA Leading Business degrees at the ceremony were Sarah Bryars, Chief Executive of Target; Luke Freeman, Joint Chief Executive of MF Freeman; and Linsey Temple, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Engineering Training

Read more
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

“I am thrilled to see InfoSec People win this fantastic award which is a testament to the brilliant team we have built in the past few years.”

Read more
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

After a stress-free shopping experience browsing designer brands this Christmas? Look no further than the luxury offerings of Mailbox in Birmingham

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search