Monday 17 January 2022

Statistics agency and T-Mobile broke privacy laws over data: NRC

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National statistics agency CBS and telecom provider T-Mobile have allegedly breached privacy laws by sharing location data which could be linked to users, the NRC reports.

The paper says data, used to provide insights into people’s movements for traffic and planning purposes, had not been anonymised, as was claimed by both parties, and were meant for commercial use by the CBS without users’ knowledge. The paper bases its claim on documents requested from the CBS under freedom of information legislation.

The relationship between T-Mobile, which has some 5.6 million subscribers in the Netherlands, and the statistics agency goes back to 2017. This is all the more remarkable because a proposed law to use location data to predict the spread of coronavirus was voted down by MPs in May last year, because of privacy concerns, the paper said.

Data protection expert Tijmen Wisman told the paper the deal between T-Mobile and the CBS, which ended in April last year, could result in a hefty fine. ‘This went on for years and allowed access to private location data of millions of people and was used to produce a concrete product, an algorithm.’

Both telecom and privacy watchdogs Agentschap Telecom and Autoriteits Persoonsgegevens have said they will start an investigation into the case.

The CBS is an arms length government organisation and as such is required to generate part of its funding from commercial services.

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