Campaigners warn government to scrap plans to scan bank accounts

04/03/2024 | The Government

Campaigners are warning against new powers being sought by the government under the Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) Bill that would enable the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to conduct automated surveillance of millions of bank accounts of people who receive benefits in order to reduce the £8 billion lost annually to welfare fraud. 

While the plan is expected to use artificial intelligence (AI) to flag activity considered suspicious, a DWP spokesperson confirmed that no decisions on whether a claimant was committing fraud would be made on the basis of the mass surveillance. "A member of staff will always take any decision related to suspending benefits, and any signals of potential fraud or error will be looked at comprehensively before action is taken," they said.

However, campaigners for welfare claimants, disabled people, human rights and privacy have warned that such an approach represents an "unprecedented and disproportionate invasion of the public's financial privacy, the effect of which will be felt most sharply by the most vulnerable".

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Department for Work and Pensions, DWP

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