Government opens Midata 'innovation lab' to boost transparency push

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has opened an "innovation lab" to encourage brands to sign up to Midata, its data transparency programme.

Customer data: Government opens Midata
Customer data: Government opens Midata

The Midata programme, which allows consumers access to all data held on them by a brand in electronic format, was launched in November 2011. It initially signed 26 big name brands voluntarily to the scheme, but since then progress has slowed.

Brands including Google, Visa, MasterCard and all the big six energy firms, were among the names to sign up in 2011.

Companies within the finance, telecoms and energy sectors will be forced to take part in Midata on a compulsory basis from October after the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act received royal assent earlier in the year.

BIS hopes its innovation lab will encourage brands outside of the finance, telecoms and energy sectors to sign up to Midata on a voluntary basis.

The lab has collected data from 1,000 consumers and will have developers on hand to demonstrate to brands how they can use their customer data to create useful services such as apps.

Businesses that have signed up as founding partners of the lab include Aimia, BBC,, ICO, Ctrl-Shift, Ofgem, Grapple, Telefonica and UCL.

A BIS spokeswoman said the department hopes the lab will "stimulate this new market" and result in new app developers exploring creative ways of using data.

The Government envisages brands will make apps that go beyond price comparison and instead improve people’s lifestyles, such as using data to recommend how consumers can cut down on sugar and save money.

BIS is at the moment focusing its efforts on getting more brands to sign up to Midata on a voluntarily basis, but has warned brands being made to sign up compulsorily "could be extended to others".

It is understood brands within the financial, energy and telecoms sectors that fail to comply would be in breach of consumer laws and would be answerable to Trading Standards.