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Letter from Privacy First to the informateur

Today, the Privacy First Foundation sent out A letter to informateur Tjeenk Willink (pdf). In it, Privacy First calls on the informateur to pay serious attention to the issue of privacy during the cabinet formation.

Call to the Informateur

The Corona crisis we are currently living in has not only cost a lot of money and put the health of very many Dutch people at risk, but has also highlighted the importance of properly protecting the privacy of Dutch citizens. The CoronaMelder app and the data leak at the GGDs are painful examples of poor protection of privacy and, in these cases, more specifically, the protection of personal data. Other examples are the numerous incidents in the (semi)public and private sectors, as well as the finding that most large companies in our country are deliberately not complying with the (U)AVG.

From reactions in politics and society, the AVG is unfairly and sometimes even unlawfully caricatured as a pile of new, stringent measures, requiring unfeasible efforts from companies (or government) and hampering effectiveness and efficiency in government and entrepreneurs. The careful handling of personal data is not just a matter of common decency: it is a fundamental right, a human right. Moreover, the legal conditions that organisations must meet to protect this right are well within the reach of almost all organisations. Careful handling of personal data and respect for private life will always have to be starting points within organisations and in the development of their activities.

This can usually be achieved with reasonable efforts, not only meeting the minimum requirements from the law, but also contributing to transparency, trust and better (customer) engagement with data subjects. Especially when privacy and data protection are seen as part of a quality service. Since the AVG became applicable, but certainly also in the past year in which the average Dutch citizen has become increasingly aware of the importance of protecting one's privacy, the broad importance of privacy has started to receive justified attention. This is a good start, but there is still much to learn and many gains to be made in various areas; besides personal certainly also economic.

The incoming cabinet is

  1. is sufficiently aware of the interest of protecting this fundamental right and also explicitly recognises and promotes it;
  2. herewith itself the leading by example by designing its own responsibilities with sufficient care;
  3. hereby the positive effects recognises and practically translates, following from careful handling of personal data of Dutch citizens, similar to careful handling of their (tax) money;
  4. the business community and all other sectors actively encourages and where necessary and possible to do so;
  5. the Personal Data Authority still quickly provides the space and resources needed to perform its duties fully;[3]
  6. is considering the ambition to move into this area of The Netherlands an international model country to be made by:
    1. to be very transparent as a government;
    2. Be open to learning from, investing in and collaborating with good initiatives;
    3. open to legislative review,
    4. where necessary through case law and/or
    5. leading to adaptation of national legislation or
    6. commitment to adapt European laws and regulations.

We hope the informateur will share the importance of privacy and data protection and include it in the discussions during the information phase.

For specific inputs by political party, please refer to the independent report of the Data trade union which collects the views from most party manifestos on privacy and information security.