Lawyers warn DWPs benefit fraud surveillance powers are illegal

17/04/2024 | The Times

Expert legal advice commissioned by digital rights group Big Brother Watch (BBW) and published in The Times (£) has cautioned that the UK government's plan to grant additional powers to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to scrutinise personal financial data in an effort to reduce benefit fraud may violate the public's right to privacy. The new powers, which are part of the government's proposals within the Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) Bill, would force banks to scan all customer accounts in search of welfare fraud or errors. However, according to the legal advice provided by Dan Squires KC and Aidan Wills of Matrix Chambers, this could breach privacy rights and individuals' rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and protection from discrimination. 

In a statement, BBW Director Silke Carlo said, "Everyone wants fraudulent uses of public money to be dealt with, and the government already has powers to review the bank statements of suspects. However, this is a completely unprecedented regime of intrusive generalised financial surveillance across the population, not restricted to serious crime or even crime at all."

£ - This article requires a subscription.

Big Brother Watch has published a version of this article without subscription

Read Full Story
Department for Work and Pensions, DWP

What is this page?

You are reading a summary article on the Privacy Newsfeed, a free resource for DPOs and other professionals with privacy or data protection responsibilities helping them stay informed of industry news all in one place. The information here is a brief snippet relating to a single piece of original content or several articles about a common topic or thread. The main contributor is listed in the top left-hand corner, just beneath the article title.

The Privacy Newsfeed monitors over 300 global publications, of which more than 4,350 summary articles have been posted to the online archive dating back to the beginning of 2020. A weekly roundup is available by email every Friday.

Freevacy has been shortlisted in the Best Educator category.
The PICCASO Privacy Awards recognise the people making an outstanding contribution to this dynamic and fast-growing sector.