Thursday 19 September 2019

Big brother is watching your car: tax office to get new powers to snoop

The tax office is to be given new powers to check car owners have paid road tax by scanning every car on the Dutch roads and comparing the number plate to a data base, RTL reported on Friday.

The measure is included in the government’s tax plans for 2019 but was hidden away under ‘other fiscal measures’, the broadcaster said.

The tax office will make use of footage taken by speed cameras and cameras used to monitor road conditions using technology known as ANPR. There are some 800 ANPR cameras monitoring Dutch roads.

ANPR technology allows officials to record the number plate, the date, the time and the location of every car passing by. The tax office will then process this to find out who has not paid their road tax. It expects the measure to raise €10m a year.

The tax office used to use the ANPR system to try to catch company car drivers who were breaking the rules on private use, but was forced to stop after the courts ruled this was illegal.

Approved

The Dutch privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens told the AD that the new proposal had been approved. ‘The tax office has been very clear about why they want the images and why it is necessary,’ the spokesman said. ‘It is still not allowed to check the private use of company cars.’

However a tax office spokesman said that research is underway into using the ANPR system to collect information about lease car drivers’ whereabouts as well.

Tax inspectors already use cars fitted with special scanners in an effort to track down people who use their company cars for private business. Festivals, out-of-town shopping centres, sports events and other popular destinations are targeted in particular.

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