Right-wing Turkish party mailer sparks serious Dutch privacy issues

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gobierno de Chile)Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gobierno de Chile)

A letter from Turkey's right-wing party AK arriving at the homes of a large group of Turkish-Dutch people has sparked serious privacy concerns in the Netherlands. The Dutch Data Protection Authority is investigating whether the letters violate the Privacy Act.

The letters are personally addressed to the Turkish-Dutch people and was sent to their home addresses, Dutch newspaper AD reports. It was drafted on ruling party AK's stationary and signed by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. In it he calls on the addressees to vote for the AK party. He promises, among other things, 20 percent off flights with Turkish Airlines and a perk for Turkish women having children abroad. He also promises to preserve Turkish as a mother tongue, by supporting bilingual Turkish-Dutch creches.

This letter has sparked a number of concerns among the Turkish-Dutch population, who are wondering how a political party in Turkey managed to get hold of their names and addresses. The SP has posed parliamentary questions on the matter to Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs and Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs. The Data Protection Act clearly states that citizens' addresses may not be used for things they did not ask for.

The Dutch Data Protection Authority has launched an investigation and will soon send a "request for information" out, chairman Jacob Kohnstamm confirmed to the newspaper. He would not say which organizations will be questioned. The investigation should give clarity on the origin of the letter.

The Dutch branch of the AK campaign told AD that they have no knowledge of the letter. The Turkish consulate and the state-bound Diyanet mosques also deny providing the information.