The tax and customs authorities have received a record fine of 3.7 million euros from the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP), for keeping people on an illegal blacklist for years. About 270,000 people were on the list, often mistakenly, as scammers before he was taken off the air in early 2020 after revelations of Fidelity and RTL News†
This is the so-called Fraud Signaling Facility (FSV), which including its predecessors was used by the tax authorities for about 20 years. According to AP chairman Aleid Wolfsen, the tax authorities have ‘turned life upside down’ by using FSV. “With FSV, the Danish Tax Agency has violated the rights of the 270,000 people on that list in an unprecedented way. People were often mistakenly branded as scammers with terrible consequences. If you were in FSV, some people did not receive a payment scheme or you were not eligible for debt restructuring. ”
‘Long list of violations’
The AP speaks of ‘a large number of breaches of the Privacy Act’, the so-called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which together justify the highest fine ever imposed by the regulator. For example, there was no legal basis for processing personal data on the list, personal data was often incorrect and the security on the list was not in order. About 5,000 Tax and Customs officials had access to the system.
Furthermore, the AP puts a lot of pressure on the tax authorities for the fact that the internal privacy supervisor in Skat did not help to compile the list in time. And even though it was already internally clear in January 2019 that the list was not in accordance with the law, Skat only took action when Fidelity and RTL News asked questions about the secret list in early 2020.
Minors on the list
Data on nationality, origin, medical data were stored in the FSV, and even minors were blacklisted by the tax authorities. Recently, it became clear that the selection of people who ended up on the list was also based on discriminatory criteria. The Ministry of Taxation and Finance had been clear about this for a much longer time, but it was concealed from the Folketing and journalists, it revealed. Fidelity Monday.
Aleid Wolfsen, President of the AP: “Do you have Turkish, Moroccan or Eastern European nationality? Then you would be examined further for no good reason because of that nationality. This discrimination is unacceptable. The tax authorities also mentioned, for example, gifts to mosques and high medical expenses for people with Eastern European-sounding surnames as a risk factor for fraud.
Vest pocket-trouser pocket
AP speaks of ‘gross negligence’ on the part of the Tax Authorities and the Ministry of Finance. “The tax has made several mistakes,” says Wolfsen. While it is precisely the Tax that has a very large responsibility towards the people of the Netherlands. People need to be able to trust that Tax handles their data with care. That turned out not to be the case in the FSV case. ”
The question is whether the fine can ensure that Skat now gets things in order. The amount itself is a matter of pocket – pocket: one government department pays a fine to another with tax money.
do not rest
The AP is also not convinced that improvement is imminent. The supervisory authority points to the many previous fines that the tax authorities have received, including one for discrimination in the compensation case: “AP notes that it points to persistent problems of a structural nature that can not lead to a different conclusion than that of Skat., The official the minister’s management has been or has been for many years widespread negligence, negligence and even discriminatory and thus unlawful conduct in the application of legal rules on data protection. ”
In a response, Secretary of State Marnix van Rij spoke of ‘a harsh and unmistakable verdict that once again shows the need for fundamental improvements in the tax and customs services’. “I share the AP’s view that FSV should never have been used in this way. I experience the fines as a painful but understandable conclusion given the seriousness of the results. I will not oppose and pay the fines. ”
The tax authorities withheld discriminatory criteria
To determine if anyone may have committed fraud, Tax was selected by origin, age and religion, research showed two weeks ago. But the tax authorities and the Ministry of Finance had long known that.