The Household Charge Data Protection Kerfuffle (Part 2)

I don’t normally blog twice in day but I also don’t like to write 40000 word blog posts.

So here is part 2 of the post I wrote earlier (with thanks to @brianhonan for pointing out some stuff on the twitterbox).

Data Retention

The Privacy Statement for states that

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides for the issuing of receipts and certificates of discharge, waiver and exemption on request. To enable a local authority meet these statutory requirements your data will be securely retained in the system.

Great. That tells me the statutory basis for some of this processing. But it doesn’t tell me how long the data is actually going to be retained for. As VAT isn’t payable/chargeable on a tax the retention period that applies under the VAT acts wouldn’t apply, and in the context of Income tax Revenue require me to hold data, not the other way around (but they do hold data, and hold it quite securely).

I would assume a receipt would issue as a matter of course (at which point, no need to retain data) , as would certificates of discharge (I assume). I’m not sure about the waivers and exemptions… I would have assumed that that was a seperate process where by you would register your grounds for waiver or exemption and be excluded. (Unless of course data has been disclosed to the LGMA by another department, e.g. DSP, either in bulk or on record by record basis that would allow them to perform look ups to verify eligibility for waivers or exemptions).

So, I’m hard pushed to find a reason for retention longer than 12 months (and I’m basing that on the need to have the data to send a reminder in 11 months time). But the waivers and exemptions bit might give a reason for asking for the PPSN.. but not from everyone, just from those applying for a waiver or an exemption -anything else is still excessive processing for the purposes stated.

Rolling up the Tinfoil Hat

One element of comfort I find in the opacity of the Privacy Statement is that for all the elements it is missing that would add transparency, those that it has place some constraints on current and future uses.

In my last post I pointed out at the only two purposes that they state that data is being processed for are processing payments and sending reminders. When we look at the Retention Period bit we find a few more (issuing receipts, Waivers and Exemptions).

Which means there are a discrete set of stated specific purposes for which this data can be used. And no more.

Therefore, to roll up the tin foil hat a little, fears that the Government might be building a property register on the sly can be allayed by the fact that any such use would not be lawful as it has not been spelled out as a purpose for the data you are providing.