The UBO register of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce contained public information about all ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) of all companies and other legal entities (including foundations and associations) incorporated in the Netherlands, with all the privacy and security risks that this entails. In 2021, Privacy First therefore challenged the Dutch government about the UBO register in court.
In early 2021, Privacy First and Boekx Attorneys filed a lawsuit against the Dutch government over the new UBO register. Under the legislation on which the UBO register is based, all 1.5 million legal entities listed in the Dutch Trade Register had to disclose all kinds of privacy-sensitive information about their UBOs ("ultimate beneficial owners"). This concerned millions of directors, shareholders and senior executives of all Dutch companies, foundations, associations, churches, etc. Privacy First considered this to be a massive privacy violation with major personal security risks. Privacy First therefore requested the court to declare the UBO register unlawful. After all, much of the information in the UBO register would be publicly accessible. Privacy First considered this to be totally disproportionate and in violation of European privacy law. The District Court in The Hague subsequently ruled that the validity of the European money laundering directives on which the UBO register was based could indeed be doubted. Moreover, on appeal, the Hague Court of Appeal emphasized that a UBO who fears for his safety could shield his personal data from the general public. In a similar Luxembourg case supported by Privacy First, the EU Court subsequently ruled that the public accessibility of all UBO registers in the European Union violates European privacy law. Since then, the Dutch UBO register has not been publicly accessible. Privacy First continues to monitor developments critically.