Chamber of commerce in blunder over MPs private data

Photo: KvK
Photo: KvK

The Dutch chamber of commerce KVK wrongfully handed over some 1,800 home addresses of MPs and others active in political organisations to a former lawyer.

Unlike the private data of freelancers which is public, only lawyers, notaries and bailiffs can request access to the kind of information involved in this breach.

The lawyer, whose identity has not been revealed, had deregistered as a lawyer and therefore no longer had the right to access the information,  which included the home addresses of MPs from D66, FvD, BIJ1 and GroenLinks as well as people active in student union LSVb and GroenLinks youth organisation DWARS.

The man has since stated in a letter to the KvK  that he did not share the addresses with others but only wanted the information ‘for research purposes and to gain an understanding of social wrongs’.

The chamber of commerce reported the breach to privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP) and also informed police.

The people whose addresses were compromised have been informed by the KvK and were told to be on the alert for ‘unusual activity’ involving their home address.

The matter has led to questions in parliament from BIJ1 MP Sylvana Simons and D66 MP Lisa van Ginneken who want to know what the lawyer’s motives were, and if he acted alone or sold on the addresses for criminal purposes.

‘D66 has told the KvK time and again to be more careful with the private data of people who may be at risk of threats and intimidation,’ Van Ginneken said. ‘That is why we want to ask junior (economic affairs, DN) minister Mona Keijzer for clarification.’

Simons also wants to include the private data of freelancers  in a closed register to which only people with a specific function or reason can have access following the harrassment of, among others, journalists and opinion makers.

The KvK has since found that more former lawyers have abused their right of access. Some 164 authorisations were given to 94 former lawyers, information provided by lawyers’ organisation NOvA showed.

‘We are investigating the consequences for those concerned,’ a KvK spokesman told RTL Nieuws. The KvK is also considering legal steps, including against the man involved in the latest breach.

It will also review access procedures.

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