Tuesday 07 April 2020

Privacy complaints skyrocket, watchdog says it needs more staff

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Dutch privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens received nearly 28,000 complaints about privacy issues last year, a rise of 79% on 2018, the agency said on Friday.

New EU legalisation on privacy is one reason for the rise, but the Dutch are also becoming more privacy aware, agency chief Aleid Wolfsen said.

‘They are phoning us if their former church refuses to write them out of the christening register,’ he said. ‘They are filling in the website form if the same energy supplier phones them again about a special offer or a physiotherapist wants paying to reveal what information about them he has collected.’

Despite taking measures to deal with complaints more quickly, the watchdog says it still does not have enough capacity to deal with issues fast enough.

‘Our current staffing levels mean we can usually only deal with a complaint after six months,’ Wolfsen said. ‘We have to do this differently… and we are glad that the justice ministry has commissioned research into the capacity and funding which we really need.’

Almost three in 10 complaints dealt with by the agency last year centred on consumers’ rights to know what information is being held about them, and the right to be forgotten.

A further 15% focused on unwanted advertising and about companies selling people’s private details to third parties.

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