HMRC ordered to delete voice records of 5 million customers

HMRC has been ordered to delete the voice records of five million taxpayers, after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled there had been a “significant” breach of data protection laws.

The decision came after HMRC failed to gain explicit consent before signing individuals up to a voice ID system for enquiries over the telephone.

According to the ICO, this breached data privacy laws, and the body handed HMRC the first notice of its kind under GDPR rules to ensure the data is deleted. However, the tax office will not be fined.  

Campaigners had accused the tax office of creating “biometric ID cards by the back door”, according to BBC News.

Steve Wood, deputy commissioner at the ICO, commented: “Innovative digital services help make our lives easier but it must not be at the expense of people’s fundamental right to privacy”.

BBC News reported that the system will continue, however, with HMRC Chief Executive Sir Jon Thompson reporting that voice ID is “popular with our customers”, makes the service more efficient, and is a more secure way of protecting customer data.