This post was written by Cynthia O’Donoghue.

The Business Innovations and Skills Department of the UK Government has issued a public consultation on a proposal to create a requirement on suppliers of goods and services to provide their customers, when requested, with information on historic transactions and consumption data in an open standard, machine-readable format. The proposed new power is part of the government’s “midata” strategy. Although the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) allows for subject access to personal data, this law only requires data controllers to provide information in “an intelligible form”. The new requirement would go further.

The government has commented that the new requirement would only relate to transaction data, covering only factual information and existing electronic data, and would not cover any subsequent analysis by the data holder. The government is considering whether this will be a general power or whether it will be exercised in a more targeted way, and who will be able to request the data.

The consultation asks a number of questions around the form and categories of data that should be covered, including what data would be most helpful to consumers, time periods and format. An additional question relates to which government bodies should be able to enforce the “midata” strategy, with options including the Information Commissioner’s Office. The consultation closes 10 September 2012.