HMRC – The UK’s tax agency Recorded the Voices of 5.1 Million Brits

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HMRC – The UK’s tax agency Recorded the Voices of 5.1 Million Brits

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HMRC – The UK’s tax agency Recorded the Voices of 5.1 Million Brits

HMRC is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government responsible for the collection of taxes, the payment of some forms of state support and the administration of other regulatory regimes including the national minimum wage.

HMRC was formed by the merger of the Inland Revenue and Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise, which took effect on 18 April 2005.[4] The department’s logo is the St Edward’s Crown enclosed within a circle.

HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs)— The UK’s tax agency has collected the voice records of over 5.1 million Brits, a UK-based privacy and civil liberties group has discovered.

The HMRC collected these voice records via a new service it launched in January 2017. Called Voice ID, the service allows UK citizens to authenticate when calling HMRC call centers via their voice.




HMRC misled users into providing a voice sample

When it launched, the HMRC website claimed users would be able to opt out of using this feature and continue to authenticate and prove their identity via the usual methods.

But an investigation by privacy group Big Brother Watch has discovered that there’s no opt-out option when calling the HMRC support line, and all callers were forced to record a voice track to use with the Voice ID service.

The only way to avoid creating a voice track was by saying “no” three times during the voice track creation process, something the privacy group’s investigators discovered on their own.

Unfortunately, the Voice ID system didn’t record this option, and it would pester the caller for a voice sample every time they called back.


voice sample


Privacy group: HMRC broke the law

Big Brother Watch members argue that the HMRC broke user rights by not providing a simple way of opting out.

Furthermore, after a very lengthy and complicated process, users can only opt out from using voice recognition for the authentication process, but users can’t have their voice patterns removed from HMRC’s database.

The privacy group argues that HMRC is in clear violation of GDPR (an EU user privacy directive that’s been enacted in the UK) by not prompting Brits for active consent and by not giving them an easy method of revoking consent and having their personal biometric data removed.


Big Brother


ICO is investigating

Big Brother Watch officials are now urging users to file a complaint with the HMRC and file another complaint about the HMRC with the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s national data protection authority.

The privacy group says it already notified ICO officials on its own, and the latter started an official investigation into HMRC’s practices.






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