The Information Commissioner’s Office has announced that as part of their pursuit of a “Single View of the Customer” (SVoC), it is their intention that all “behavioural data” of gamblers will be shared from a centralised store. The genesis of the SVoC, which began in November 2020, was to ensure bookies and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) together with the Gambling Commission had an overview of customer data, which would help identify problem gamblers before they become an issue. Why this role has fallen to the Information Commissioner* is not clear to Guido.
The SVoC plan poses a clear and unprecedented level of privacy infringement. Bookies will be forced to share personal data with government agencies, including: how much is deposited, where people live, names, addresses. This will develop into the government having the power to oversee credit-referenced data and, ultimately, decide if the person can gamble. Regular gamblers, like the Queen, will have to be on the government’s gamblers’ register just to have a flutter on the Derby.
There is a question about the safety of the incredibly sensitive data on the register – which would be an incredibly valuable marketing resource for unscrupulous, unregulated online operators. The government has not shown itself to be a reliable guardian of personal data.
If this totalitarian piece of social control becomes a reality, where does it end? Pub-goers on a drinkers’ register to ascertain if they are problem drinkers? Supermarket cash tills linked to store loyalty cards blocking the purchase of sugary products for the overweight? Just because we have the technology to do it, doesn’t mean it is in the wider public interest. The small minority of problem gamblers do not make it in the public interest to heavily regulate the 99% of people who don’t have a gambling problem.