UK’s ICO backs single customer view approach in consultation response

| By Daniel O'Boyle
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has thrown its support behind efforts to develop a single customer view, whereby data on individuals’ spending is shared between businesses to reduce potential harm.
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However, the GB Gambling Commission said it currently had no plans currently to mandate the approach.

The statement from the ICO – the UK’s regulator for data protection issues – came as part of its response to a consultation from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) concerning the future of the UK’s data policy following its exit from the European Union.

This consultation included a section on “innovative data sharing solutions”. These included systems where business could use open banking to allow businesses to share data on customers in a manner similar to a single customer view.

The consultation also asked questions about the intermediaries who would be tasked with handling this shared data.

Although it did not specifically mention gambling, in its response to the consultation, the ICO said it would support the use of data-sharing to help businesses accurately assess customer risk.

“We support the Government’s intention to provide organisations with additional support in understanding risk and ensuring appropriate protections are applied,” it said. “Approaches to new, innovative, and appropriate forms of data sharing are to be welcomed.”

It added that this shared data would be most effective “where they enhance people’s rights and have the potential to address power imbalances between those holding large scale data sets and those seeking to use them”.

However, it also said that more clarity was needed regarding who would be responsible for data protection in this system, as well as more clarity to ensure that all necessary data protection principles are applied.

Following the consultation response, new UK Gambling Minister Chris Philp said the ICO’s findings could prove to be very important in helping reduce gambling harm, and urged the industry to work on a data-sharing solution.

“We are determined to tackle problem gambling and we are undertaking a comprehensive review of our gambling laws to ensure they are fit for the digital age,” he said. “I welcome the Information Commissioner’s Office findings that data can be shared safely and securely between operators to prevent problem gamblers running up crippling losses.

“It is essential that more action is taken to prevent people becoming dangerously addicted to gambling to the point that lives can be ruined. This is an important step towards protecting vulnerable people and operators must now come together to quickly deliver a meaningful solution.”

A spokesperson for industry trade group the Betting and Gaming Council said: “We note the report from the Information Commissioner’s Office and will now work through its findings in detail. Work on the industry’s own trial has been ongoing for some time, and we now look forward to progressing with it in discussion with the Gambling Commission and ICO.”

The Gambling Commission said the findings were very helpful, but that it does not yet have any plans to enforce a requirement for a single customer view.

“The publication of the ICO’s report provides an important and helpful steer on how a SCV could be delivered in accordance with data protection law,” it said. “However, there are still plenty of issues and complexities that need to be addressed as part of a pilot phase of work.

“At this stage we have no plans to mandate a particular SCV solution – that is for industry to develop and test – but we do expect industry to demonstrate the impact its piloted solution has against the challenge we set.”

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