80% spike in complaints to Dutch Data Protection Authority

The number of complaints about a possible privacy violation sent to the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) increased by a massive 79 percent to 27,800 last year. The majority of complaints involved a violation of the right to privacy - the right to inspect information about yourself, or have information removed from somewhere, AD reports.

According to AP, the sharp spike in complaints can partly be explained by the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (AVG) in May 2018. In addition, fewer complaints were received in the second half of 2019 than in the first half, mainly because the AP modified its existing complaints process in the second half of the year and thereby prevented unintended complaints. 

The regulator handled a total of 20,700 complaints last year, resulting in 138 investigations. 25 violations were found, after which AP imposed a fine or another sanction, such as a letter explaining privacy rules. The majority of complaints, 29 percent, involved a violation of the right to privacy. There were also many complaints about unsolicited advertising, and organizations that transfer data to third parties without consent. 

AP said that despite measures to deal with complaints more quickly, its capacity remains insufficient to help people in a timely enough manner. With its current employees, the privacy watchdog can only handle most complaints six months after they were filed. 

An investigation into the capacity and financing of the AP is expected in May, according to the newspaper.