Midata, first mooted in April, is being developed by the department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and major brands such as British Gas, Lloyds Banking Group and Google.
The government hopes by getting hold of the data collected by companies, consumers will be able to make better choices when deciding which products and services to buy.
It is being sold to companies, many of which have invested millions in systems to capture and analyse data, as a way to bolster brand reputation by being more open and transparent.
In turn, BIS argues, consumers will be more willing to share information and offer brands improved insight.
The government is in discussions with several companies from several sectors on how data can be released. The development of a common approach for customers to be able to see, update and correct basic information about themselves is being sought.
Once concluded, “personal data inventories” (PDIs), a description of the type of data the company holds about each customer, for each sector will be made available in the first half of 2012 just ahead of the first data releases.
Twenty six companies (see below) have signed up to BIS’ “vision” to date but the department is working with several other companies, including dunnhumby and Nectar, to develop the initiative ahead of launch.
It is hoped that the biggest companies in all major sectors will participate within three years.
It is not yet known whether consumers will be charged for receiving the data. Ed Davey, consumer affairs minister, says it was “up to companies” to decide.
Launching the initiative, Davey added: “Currently, most consumer data is held by service providers, meaning only one side of the customer-business relationship is empowered with the tools of information management. Midata seeks to redress that balance.”
Companies, consumer groups and regulators signed up
Lloyds Banking Group
Scottish Southern Energy
The UK Cards Association
Communications Consumer Panel
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
Office of Fair Trading (OFT)