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Privacy-violating UBO register misses target

Next Tuesday, 16 June 2020, the Senate's agenda includes the adoption of the 'Implementation law 'registration of beneficial owners of companies and other legal entities'

Among other things, this law amends the Trade Register Act 2007. The Commercial Register of the Chamber of Commerce will then contain information on the ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) of companies and other legal entities incorporated in the Netherlands. This information will then be publicly available for anyone to consult, with all the associated privacy risks.

European directive

This legislative amendment stems from the European Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which requires Member States to register personal data of UBOs and make it publicly available. Its purpose is to counter money laundering and terrorist financing. Making UBOs' personal data publicly available, including the UBO's interest in the company, contributes to that goal, according to the European legislator.

Massive privacy violation

This raises the question of whether the means misses the point. Disclosing the personal data of UBOs to anyone is a 'blanket measure' of a preventive nature. It is an invasion of privacy that, in Privacy First's view, is not proportionate. After all, the vast majority of UBOs have nothing to do with money laundering or terrorist financing. It should be sufficient if the information on UBOs is available to the government departments dealing with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing. It is going too far to make that information fully public.

The European Data Protection Supervisor already ruled that this privacy violation is not proportionate. But that judgment did not lead to an amendment of the Directive.

Legal steps

Privacy First is considering legal action against the UBO register for violating European privacy law.

Would you (or your organisation) like to participate as a co-plaintiff in such a lawsuit or financially support Privacy First in it? Then please contact with us or become a donor!