The tax authorities will be fined 2.75 million euros by the Dutch data protection authority for violations during the exemption case. The privacy watchdog said tax authorities had seriously violated the General Data Protection Regulation by discriminating on the basis of nationality.
The fine was imposed on the outgoing finance minister in charge of the tax authority. tax authorities get fine for multiple violations. These were all part of a wildcard issue where thousands of parents were often wrongly viewed as fraudulent and the Rutte III Ministry fell last year. Tax and Customs Administration registered the nationalities of childcare benefit recipients, often identifying dual nationals as potential fraudsters without good reason.
Specifically, the Tax and Customs Administration violated the privacy law of the GDPR in three parts. The first was to combine the two nationalities in the first place. This was done by the benefits department, in a system called the Benefits Sentences Scheme or TVS. The Dutch Data Protection Authority says the department should never have collected this data. This violates the tax authorities Article 5 of the General Data Protection Regulation, which specifies when personal data can be “lawfully processed”. There are various reasons for this, such as approval. The tax authorities could in theory also collect the data if it was necessary to perform their task, but the Dutch data protection authority says there is no such basis. Minister of State Minno Senel, who has since resigned, and current Foreign Minister Alexandra van Hovelen had previously acknowledged that dual citizenship should not be allowed. Data collection began at the beginning of 2015 and continued until at least 2020.
The second GDPR violation is that tax authorities used data about dual citizenship in an algorithm. The AP calls this an “indicator in the automatic selection of dangerous applications”. Tax and Customs Administration has used its “risk rating model” to determine when applying for childcare allowance may be risky. Dual citizenship was used as one of the indicators. This processing also violates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The AP concluded that the use of the citizenship data “was not necessary for this purpose”. This violation occurred from March 2016 to October 2018.
The third offense is very similar to the second offense. The tax authorities also suspected victims of “organized fraud”. To this end, the Tax and Customs Administration regularly searched for the citizenship of citizens in the system. With the last two facts, the tax authorities violated Article 6 of the General Data Protection Regulation. This relates to when the data can be used lawfully. This differs from Article 5, which deals primarily with the group. The Tax and Customs Administration also violated the Personal Data Protection Act, the privacy law that was in place before the General Data Protection Regulation.
The fine amounted to 2.75 million euros so far The highest percentage reported by the Associated Press so far. Remarkably, according to the rules of the fine policy of the Associated Press, a maximum fine of 750 thousand euros is imposed for violations. The first violation, the collection of data, costs the tax authorities 750 thousand euros, and for the other two violations, the amount is one million euros each. “The AP considers a government agency to have discriminatory processing extremely dangerous,” the AP wrote, which also speaks of “improper processing that violated the basic rights of many citizens.” “As a result, the AP finds that the category of fine associated with the violation does not allow for an appropriate penalty for these two violations.”
The AP has criticized the tax authorities’ role during the scandal for some time. The agency also criticized the tax authorities in the fine decision. “In conclusion, the Secretary did not adequately cooperate with the AP to address the violation and limit its potential negative consequences by making incorrect statements during the investigation that impeded the AP investigation.” For example, the Director General of Tax and Customs Administration lied about data collection. “With these incorrect statements, the AP has been misled and the course of the investigation has been complicated and delayed.”
The outgoing minister can still object to the fine. The specific violations for which the fines were handed out are now stopped. In the summer of 2020, all dual nationalities were permanently deleted from the tax authorities’ databases.
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