Tag: Data Protection Authority

Dutch Minister of Finance fined 2.75 million Euro for discriminatory and unlawful data processing

4. January 2022

On December 8th, 2021, the Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA)) announced that it had fined the Belastingdienst (the Dutch Tax Administration) €2.75 million. The fine was imposed because, as part of the so-called Toeslagenaaffaire (Childcare Benefit Affair), the Belastingdienst processed data on the (dual) nationality of childcare benefit claimants in an unlawful, discriminatory and therefore unlawful manner over many years, in serious breach of the principles of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In the 2010s, the Belastingdienst wrongly reclaimed child benefits from tens of thousands of parents. Even minor formal errors in filling out the forms led to enormous claims, and a supposedly false citizenship could lead to years of stigmatizing fraud investigations. As a result, many families who relied on government assistance were driven into bankruptcy. The Belastingdienst should have deleted the data on dual nationality of Dutch nationals in January 2014, as from that date the dual nationality of Dutch nationals no longer played a legal role in the assessment of applications for childcare benefits. Nevertheless, the Belastingdienst retained and used these data. In May 2018, there were still about 1.4 million people with dual nationality registered in the Belastingdienst’s systems. What initially appeared to be a simple administrative failure has evolved over the years into a major scandal. The final report of the investigative commission, presented in December, concludes that the tax offices systematically preyed on innocent citizens. The Belastingdienst also used the nationality of applicants as an indicator in a system that automatically classified certain applications as risky. Again, the data were not necessary for this purpose. Under the General Data Protection Regulation, it is unlawful to process data on nationality in a discriminatory manner, as the data processing must not violate fundamental rights. These include the right to equality and non-discrimination. Under the GDPR, it is unlawful to process personal data on nationality in a discriminatory manner, as the data processing must not violate fundamental rights. These include the right to equality and non-discrimination. In addition, personal data may only be processed and stored for a specific, predetermined purpose. Processing without a purpose is inadmissible, and here there was no purpose, as nationality is legally irrelevant for the assessment of applications for childcare benefits.

In the statement DPA chair Aleid Wolfsen is quoted:

The government has exclusive responsibility for lots of things. Members of the public don’t have a choice; they are forced to allow the government to process their personal data.
That’s why it’s crucial that everyone can have absolute confidence that this processing is done properly. That the government doesn’t keep and process unnecessary data about individuals. And that there is never any element of discrimination involved in an individual’s contact with the government.
That went horribly wrong at the Benefits Office, with all the associated consequences. Obviously this fine cannot undo any of the harm done. But it is an important step within a broader recovery process.

In the wake of the DPA investigation, the Belastingdienst began to clean up its internal systems. In the summer of 2020, the dual nationalities of Dutch nationals were completely deleted from the systems. According to the DPA, since October 2018, the Belastingdienst no longer uses the nationality of applicants to assess risk. And since February 2019, it no longer uses the data to fight organized fraud. The fine was imposed on the Minister of Finance because he is responsible for the processing of personal data within the Belastingdienst.

Brazil changes new Data Protection Law and creates a Data Protection Authority

15. January 2019

On August 14, 2018, Brazil’s former president Michel Termer signed the new General Data Privacy Law (Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais or “LGPD”) (we reported). Although the law enlarges the country’s data protection framework, the final text did not contain the creation of a data protection authority.

On December 28, 2018, Temer signed a last-minute executive order (Medida Provisória no. 869/18), which made important changes to the LGPD including the implementation of the Brazilian National Data Protection Authority (Autoridade Nacional de Proteção de Dados or “ANPD”).

Despite the ANPD being an independent entity and being capable of freely handling and evaluating data protection and privacy issues, the authority still is part of the federal government and linked to the office of the President of Brazil.

According to the Executive Order no. 869/18 the ANPD has, among other things, the authority to:

  • Release rules and regulations regarding privacy and data protection;
  • Exclusively be responsible for monitoring and applying fines to non-compliant organizations;
  • Within the administrative field, exclusively interpret the LGPD, including cases in which the law remain silent; and
  • Promote privacy and data protection within the Brazilian society.

The new agency would consist of 28 members, five of them to be chosen by the president to constitute the board of directors and 23 members including public, private and third sector representatives to constitute an advisory board.

The order also establishes other important changes to the LGPD. For example that:

  • The LGPD will come into force in August 2020, six months after the originally scheduled date. Until then the ANPD will have an advisory and collaborative function.
  • The Data Protection Officer does not need to be an individual person. The tasks could be performed by an internal committee or department or could be outsourced to third parties such as specialized companies and law firms.

The executive order came into force immediately but must be voted into law by the Brazilian Congress to remain valid and become permanent.

ICO fines Regal Chambers Surgery with 40,000 GBP

12. August 2016

The ICO fines Regal Chambers Surgery with 40,000 GBP due to the fact that personal medical information was handed out.

Regal Chambers Surgery disclosed medical file to a man regarding his son containing 62 pages not only of personal data but also including information on the ex-partner, her parents, and an older child he was not related to. However, although the man requested the records under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act, Regal Chambers had no process implemented to determine whether the data should be handed out.

The ICO’s Head of Enforcement, Steve Eckersley commented that “Most people would be horrified to think the information they entrust to their GP was being treated with anything less than the utmost care. In this case a patient reinforced this, however her pleas went unheeded”.

Category: EU · UK
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