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Privacy First call in Algemeen Dagblad: State must stop providing personal data to churches

The State should stop providing personal data to churches as soon as possible. Privacy First makes that call to the cabinet.

Now, churches automatically receive the personal details of more than five million Dutch people who were once registered with a church. As a result, anyone who moves house will immediately receive a letter from their local church at their new address - often with an attached payment slip.

"This situation is undesirable and can no longer be tolerated," said Privacy First director Vincent Böhre. ,,The government wants citizens to have more control over their personal data. In our opinion, this also means that you have to give your own permission for sharing your data with church institutions."

In 2016, the entire House of Representatives - with the exception of the Christian parties - supported a motion by D66 to stop automatically sharing personal data with churches. Former Interior Minister Plasterk decided to regulate this by early 2018 at the latest.


But the new cabinet has reversed that decision. Under pressure from coalition parties CDA and ChristenUnie, it has been agreed in the coalition agreement that 'a transitional arrangement' will apply to church organisations. In practice, this means that nothing will change for the time being. "The design of the transitional arrangement is still under discussion," said a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior.

According to Privacy First, the scheme should be ended as soon as possible because stricter European privacy laws will come into force from 25 May. "The current tolerance policy for churches really can't go on," said Böhre. "Keeping records for religious groups is not a task of the government."


Changes in the Municipal Personal Records Database (GBA) are now automatically transmitted to churches. This happens not only when people move house: also when they get married, divorced, born and die. The church database - SILA - contains the personal details of over five million Dutch people. Anyone who no longer wishes to receive mail from the church must unsubscribe.

In 2016, the VVD in the House of Representatives strongly opposed the sharing of personal data with churches. The party compared the data sharing to the situation where the Turkish government obtained addresses of Turkish Dutch citizens in order to then send them voting advice."

Source: Algemeen Dagblad 16 April 2018, p. 6 and