Taxpayers urge HMRC to delete biometric data

29 Jan 2019

Thousands of taxpayers have urged HMRC to delete the biometric data it stored during phone calls made to its Voice ID system.

HMRC has gathered millions of callers' biometric data since launching its Voice ID system in 2017. However, non-profit organisation Big Brother Watch stated that people have been 'railroaded into a mass ID scheme by the back door'.

HMRC's Voice ID system allows taxpayers to say a key phrase when calling its helpline, which is used in place of a conventional password in order to grant access to accounts. The Revenue now permits individuals to opt out of using the Voice ID scheme, and delete any data captured. However, millions of Voice ID records have been stored in a third-party database.

Big Brother Watch said that it has reported HMRC to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), on the grounds that it has 'broken data protection laws'.

Figures show that there are seven million taxpayers currently enrolled in HMRC's Voice ID database. According to a Freedom of Information request, 162,185 individuals have opted out of the Voice ID scheme and have had their biometric data deleted by HMRC.

A spokesperson for HMRC said: 'Our Voice ID system is very popular with millions of customers as it gives a quick route to access accounts by phone.

'All our data is stored securely, and customers can opt out of Voice ID or delete their records any time they want.'

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