Dutch privacy watchdog urges action on traffic light tracking

The Dutch data protection authority Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens has urged the infrastructure ministry to take action about the growing number of traffic lights that have been fitted with software, allowing them to track road users.

The traffic lights connect to the mobile phones of road users and follow them to gather information about traffic volume and speed.

But the traffic lights also collect personal information about motorists, enabling them, for example, to follow a complete route including date, time and the speed the car is travelling. And because local councils and the transport ministry’s roads department know where these traffic lights are located, they can also follow specific road users, the AP says.

The AP says officials have not thought properly about the privacy implications of what they are doing. Nor have they said who the data is being shared with and who is responsible for it.

The agency, which first warned about the problem in 2021, is asking the ministry for the second time to at least determine if the use of data-collecting traffic lights is in line with privacy legislation and to ensure everyone using the data is aware of the implications.

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