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Campaign group Big Brother Watch has accused HMRC of creating ID cards by stealth after it was revealed the UK taxman has amassed a database of 5.1 million people's voiceprints.
The department introduced its Voice ID system in January 2017. This requires taxpayers calling HMRC to record a key phrase, which is used to create a digital signature that the system uses to unlock the right account when they phone back.
Freedom - Information - Request - Big - Brother
According to a Freedom of Information request, submitted by Big Brother Watch and published today, the department now has more than 5.1 million people's voiceprints on record.
However, the group argued that users haven't been given enough information on the scheme, how to opt in or out, or details on how their data would be deleted. The FoI revealed that no customers have opted out in the 30 days to 13 March, but the department refused to respond to set out exactly how the erasure process would work.
Director - Silkie - Carlo - Taxpayers - Mass
Director Silkie Carlo said that taxpayers have been "railroaded into a mass ID scheme" and that the government was "imposing biometric ID cards on the public by the back door".
The FoI response also raises questions about the lawfulness of the collection and storage of the data, and whether it is in line with the General Data Protection Regulation that came into force on 25 May.
GDPR - System - People - Voice - Definition
Under the GDPR, a system that allows people to be identified by their voice would likely meet the definition of processing of biometric data. This places certain demands on the organisation beyond those made for other forms of personal data.
"Where [biometric processing] takes place, GDPR says that the person must give 'explicit consent'. 'Consent' also means a 'freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous' indication of the person's wishes, and it must be a 'clear, affirmative action'," said Jon Baines, a data...
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