HMRC building

HMRC plans to sell the public’s details to the highest bidder, it has recently been reported.

The data of thousands of men and women across the country could be sold to private companies by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

This new move has prompted concerns over civil liberties and privacy.

The government claims that the data will be anonymous, but there are doubts about whether the promise can be kept.

In 2007, the tax authority came under fire for ‘losing’ the data of thousands of child benefits claimants across the country.
This happened just months after a junior official at HMRC gave the National Audit Office a full copy of its child benefit data, in breach of security procedures.

These new proposals were actually made last year – but only released into the public domain recently.

Commenting, HMRC, said: “No final decisions have been taken, but HMRC remains committed to safeguarding taxpayer confidentiality. Those accessing data would be subject to the same confidentiality provisions as HMRC staff, including a criminal sanction for unlawful disclosure of taxpayer information.

“HMRC will be consulting further and will ask for views on whether to charge to cover the costs of processing and providing anonymised data.”

An MP has branded the proposals as “borderline insane”.

MP David Davies, commented in an interview with the Guardian: “The officials who drew this up clearly have no idea of the risks to data in an electronic age. Our forefathers put these checks and balances in place when the information was kept in cardboard files, and data was therefore difficult to appropriate and misuse.

“It defies logic that we would remove those restraints at a time when data can be collected by the gigabyte, processed in milliseconds and transported around the world almost instantaneously.”

These new developments come just weeks after it was announced that HMRC would be allowed to raid the accounts of people who it claims has fallen foul of tax laws.

Under the new measurements, HMRC would automatically be able to help itself to whatever is in your account, without going to trial.

The law is frightfully similar to the powers afforded to the controversial IRS in America which has the same powers and has come under fire in many well-documented cases where families have been forced into homelessness after having their bank accounts raided by the IRS.

This would effectively prevent you from having any money available to you at all, and make it almost impossible to get legal representation, due to the account being made inaccessible to you – but not to HMRC.

Additionally, the tax authority would also be able to withdraw money from your account if it believes that it may win a legal case against you.

They essentially awarded themselves the powers to penalise people by taking out all of their estimated legal fees from your account before any court ruling has been made.

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