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Trying to find useful things to do with emerging technologies in open education

#Midata Is Intended to Benefit Whom, Exactly?

A CTRL-Shift blog post entitled MIDATA Legislation Begins mentions, but doesn’t link to, “an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulator Reform Bill in the House of Lords”, presumably referring to paragraphs 58C*, 58D* and 58E* proposed by Viscount Younger of Leckie in the Seventh Marshalled List of Amendments:

58C*

Insert the following new Clause—

“Supply of customer data

(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations require a regulated person to provide customer data—

(a) to a customer, at the customer’s request;

(b) to a person who is authorised by a customer to receive the data, at the customer’s request or, if the regulations so provide, at the authorised person’s request.

(2) “Regulated person” means—

(a) a person who, in the course of a business, supplies gas or electricity to any premises;

(b) a person who, in the course of a business, provides a mobile phone service;

(c) a person who, in the course of a business, provides financial services consisting of the provision of current account or credit card facilities;

(d) any other person who, in the course of a business, supplies or provides goods or services of a description specified in the regulations.

(3) “Customer data” means information which—

(a) is held in electronic form by or on behalf of the regulated person, and

(b) relates to transactions between the regulated person and the customer.

(4) Regulations under subsection (1) may make provision as to the form in which customer data is to be provided and when it is to be provided (and any such provision may differ depending on the form in which a request for the data is made).

(5) Regulations under subsection (1)—

(a) may authorise the making of charges by a regulated person for complying with requests for customer data, and

(b) if they do so, must provide that the amount of any such charge—

(i) is to be determined by the regulated person, but

(ii) may not exceed the cost to that person of complying with the request.

(6) Regulations under subsection (1)(b) may provide that the requirement applies only if the authorised person satisfies any conditions specified in the regulations.

(7) In deciding whether to specify a description of goods or services for the purposes of subsection (2)(d), the Secretary of State must (among other things) have regard to the following—

(a) the typical duration of the period during which transactions between suppliers or providers of the goods or services and their customers take place;

(b) the typical volume and frequency of the transactions;

(c) the typical significance for customers of the costs incurred by them through the transactions;

(d) the effect that specifying the goods or services might have on the ability of customers to make an informed choice about which supplier or provider of the goods or services, or which particular goods or services, to use;

(e) the effect that specifying the goods or services might have on competition between suppliers or providers of the goods or services.

(8) The power to make regulations under this section may be exercised—

(a) so as to make provision generally, only in relation to particular descriptions of regulated persons, customers or customer data or only in relation to England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland;

(b) so as to make different provision for different descriptions of regulated persons, customers or customer data;

(c) so as to make different provision in relation to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland;

(d) so as to provide for exceptions or exemptions from any requirement imposed by the regulations, including doing so by reference to the costs to the regulated person of complying with the requirement (whether generally or in particular cases).

(9) For the purposes of this section, a person (“C”) is a customer of another person (“R”) if—

(a) C has at any time, including a time before the commencement of this section, purchased (whether for the use of C or another person) goods or services supplied or provided by R or received such goods or services free of charge, and

(b) the purchase or receipt occurred—

(i) otherwise than in the course of a business, or

(ii) in the course of a business of a description specified in the regulations.

(10) In this section, “mobile phone service” means an electronic communications service which is provided wholly or mainly so as to be available to members of the public for the purpose of communicating with others, or accessing data, by mobile phone.”

58D*

Insert the following new Clause—

“Supply of customer data: enforcement

(1) Regulations may make provision for the enforcement of regulations under section (Supply of customer data) (“customer data regulations”) by the Information Commissioner or any other person specified in the regulations (and, in this section, “enforcer” means a person on whom functions of enforcement are conferred by the regulations).

(2) The provision that may be made under subsection (1) includes provision—

(a) for applications for orders requiring compliance with the customer data regulations to be made by an enforcer to a court or tribunal;

(b) for notices requiring compliance with the customer data regulations to be issued by an enforcer and for the enforcement of such notices (including provision for their enforcement as if they were orders of a court or tribunal).

(3) The provision that may be made under subsection (1) also includes provision—

(a) as to the powers of an enforcer for the purposes of investigating whether there has been, or is likely to be, a breach of the customer data regulations or of orders or notices of a kind mentioned in subsection (2)(a) or (b) (which may include powers to require the provision of information and powers of entry, search, inspection and seizure);

(b) for the enforcement of requirements imposed by an enforcer in the exercise of such powers (which may include provision comparable to any provision that is, or could be, included in the regulations for the purposes of enforcing the customer data regulations).

(4) Regulations under subsection (1) may—

(a) require an enforcer (if not the Information Commissioner) to inform the Information Commissioner if the enforcer intends to exercise functions under the regulations in a particular case;

(b) provide for functions under the regulations to be exercisable by more than one enforcer (whether concurrently or jointly);

(c) where such functions are exercisable concurrently by more than one enforcer—

(i) designate one of the enforcers as the lead enforcer;

(ii) require the other enforcers to consult the lead enforcer before exercising the functions in a particular case;

(iii) authorise the lead enforcer to give directions as to which of the enforcers is to exercise the functions in a particular case.

(5) Regulations may make provision for applications for orders requiring compliance with the customer data regulations to be made to a court or tribunal by a customer who has made a request under those regulations or in respect of whom such a request has been made.

(6) Subsection (8)(a) to (c) of section (Supply of customer data) applies for the purposes of this section as it applies for the purposes of that section.

(7) The Secretary of State may make payments out of money provided by Parliament to an enforcer.

(8) In this section, “customer” and “regulated person” have the same meaning as in section (Supply of customer data).”

58E*

Insert the following new Clause—

“Supply of customer data: supplemental

(1) The power to make regulations under section (Supply of customer data) or (Supply of customer data: enforcement) includes—

(a) power to make incidental, supplementary, consequential, transitional or saving provision;

(b) power to provide for a person to exercise a discretion in a matter.

(2) Regulations under either of those sections must be made by statutory instrument.

(3) A statutory instrument containing regulations which consist of or include provision made by virtue of section (Supply of customer data)(2)(d) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(4) A statutory instrument containing any other regulations under section (Supply of customer data) or section (Supply of customer data: enforcement) is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.”

Note that 58C/1/b states that data could be released “to a person who is authorised by a customer to receive the data, at the customer’s request or, if the regulations so provide, at the authorised person’s request.” So if I say to my electricity company that they can share the data with you (“a person who is authorised by a customer to receive the data”), the company can share the data with you if I ask them to or if you ask them. Which is presumably a bit like how direct debits work (I sign something and give it to you and you then go to my bank and request access to my bank account). So the proposed legislation seems to allow for (or at least, not exclude?) the creation of data aggregators who might start to aggregate data from a variety of “regulated persons” at my authorisation.

Note that I assume other regulations, such as the Data Protection Act, preclude those data aggregators from acting as data brokers, “companies that collect personal information about consumers from a variety of public and non-public sources and resell the information to other companies” (FTC [the US Federal Trade Commission] to Study Data Broker Industry’s Collection and Use of Consumer Data).

It’s also worth mentioning that the amendment doesn’t actually seem to set about enacting any actual midata legislation: “The Secretary of State may by regulations require…” which is presumably setting up the opportunity for the Secretary of State to bring it about through a Statutory Instrument or similar?

(In passing, the tabled amendments to the Bill also includes amendments relating to proposed amendments to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (part 6 of the Bill, relating to licensing of orphan works, collection licensing, duration of copyright et al.) as well as the creation of a Director General of Intellectual Property Rights (28C).)

The day before, CTRL-Shift had also published a post on Building Relationships for a New Data Age:

The challenge (and opportunity) is to start building an information sharing relationship with customers where both sides use data sharing to save time, cut costs and be more efficient – and to add new value.

In a world that’s rapidly going digital, an information sharing relationship makes it normal for individuals to provide the organisations they deal with new, additional and updated data, and for organisations to also routinely provide customers with additional data or data-based services. Information sharing relationships and services are becoming a key influence on which organisations customers choose to do business with, and how valuable this business becomes.

The question is, how do we get from A to B? From today’s ‘one way’ norm where organisations collect data about customers and send messages to them, to a more equal and valuable information sharing partnership? There are three key pillars to an information sharing relationship:

- establish a trustworthy ‘default setting’ for the use of personal data
– give users/customers control
– earn VPI (volunteered personal information) via new information services.

Volunteered personal information, a phrase straight out of the Facebook playbook…

The post then discusses the importance of getting default settings right, in part to avoid a public backlash and a “loss of trust” when folk realise the terms and conditions allow the companies involved to do whatever it is they say the company can, before describing how companies can Earn VPI via information services:

Getting default settings right and giving users control only create the context needed for a healthy information sharing relationship. They don’t actually get the information flowing. To do that, organisations need to:

- elicit valuable additional information from customers
– release and provide customers with additional information and/or information based services that help them make better decisions and make it easier for them to get stuff done and achieve their goals – i.e. services that add new value.

In theory, eliciting VPI and offering added value information services are two separate things. But in reality they are likely to advance hand in hand: with individuals offering additional information (in an environment they can trust because of default settings and user control) as a way to get additional value from information-driven services.

Hmmm… elicit valuable additional information from customers; and then release and provide customers with … services that add new value (I can play the selective cut and past game too…;-) #midata is presumably being sold to consumers on the basis of the latter, particularly those services that “help them make better decisions and make it easier for them to get stuff done and achieve their goals”.

And then we read:

In theory, eliciting VPI and offering added value information services are two separate things. But in reality they are likely to advance hand in hand: with individuals offering additional information (in an environment they can trust because of default settings and user control) as a way to get additional value from information-driven services.

In theory, eliciting VPI and offering added value information services are two separate things. In the land where the flowers grow and the flopsy bunnies frolic, blissfully unaware that they are what Farmer McGregor actually sells to the butcher, presumably at a greater price than he can sell the lettuces the flopsy bunnies eat to the local greengrocer. Or something like that.

But in reality sound the drums of doom…in reality they are likely to advance hand in hand. Erm…of course… No-one wants shed loads of transactional data for personal use…with individuals offering additional information as a way to get additional value from information-driven services.

Yep… #midata is a way of getting you to give shed loads of low quality transactional data to third parties (who may or may not aggregate it worth other data you grant them access to) and then give them a shed load more data before it actually becomes useful. Because that’s how data works…but it’s not how the dream is sold…

Hmmm… I wonder, does the draft legislation say anything about the extent to which an authorised person is allowed to aggregate and mine data from regulated person(s) that relates to data collected from different customers either of the same, or different regulated persons? Because there lies another source of those “in reality” sources of potential value add…though we really should also try to imagine what sources they might be. (Is receiving targeted ads “value add” for me over random junk mail?)

On the other side of the fence, sort of, we see a Private Member’s Bill (Ten Minute Rule Bill?) from John Denham, Labour MP for Southampton, Itchen (not, apparently, the constituency in which the University of Southampton resides…) on Supermarket price transparency which seeks to require supermarkets “to release pricing data product by product and store by store [update: Supermarket Pricing Information Bill 2012-13]. This price information would not only enable the comparison of basic product prices, but also enable consumers to understand the differences in pricing between stores within the same retail chain, or variations in pricing of goods in different areas and regions.” In addition, it is claimed that the Private Member’s Bill “would also enable efficient scrutiny of special offers, multi-buys, ‘bogofs’ and other price promotions that have been the subject of recent criticism and regulatory action.”.

PS See also So What, #midata? And #yourData, #ourData…

Written by Tony Hirst

January 14, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Anything you want, Policy

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  1. [...] the individual first party’s personal transaction data held by a second party (for example, #Midata Is Intended to Benefit Whom, Exactly?). (So you’ll presumably legally be able to grant Facebook access to your mobile phone [...]


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