Police keeping data of 9 million people's relocations, marriages, nationality: report
The Dutch police automatically track about 9 million people’s life events, including relocations, marriages, births, and privacy-sensitive data like nationality and citizen service number. Despite concerns raised about this system in 2015, it still hasn’t changed, Trouw reports based on an internal memo in its possession.
The police get information from the Basic Registration of Persons for every person who ever had contact with the police - suspects, victims, witnesses, and anyone who ever filed a police declaration. To keep the data up to date, the police give everyone who enters the police system a “customer indication,” which means that the BRP automatically sends the police updates when their info changes.
“A customer indication is never removed, even if the person has died,” a strategic adviser to the police wrote in the memo, according to Trouw. So the police follow more and more people, even if they are no longer relevant to a case. Currently, the police are getting automatic updates on about 9 million people, according to the newspaper.
The National Office for Identity Data raised concerns about the police’s “subscription to persons” in 2015, the memo states. The police themselves also see dangers, warning that the “continuous growth of customer indications” could cause reputational damage and is sharply increasing the workload.
The internal document, which dates from 2020, states that the police are changing policy to only give a customer indication for specific groups - including suspects, members of outlaw motorcycle gangs, and people with a firearms license. If the police want to track individual persons, they have to update their data manually.
But two years later, the police system hasn’t changed. The police told Trouw that the slow adjustments are due to large, cumbersome applications that cannot be turned off overnight. The police expect that the now 2-year-old “new policy” will start this year.
Rejo Zenger of privacy watchdog Bits of Freedom called the delay in implementing the new system shocking. “The police should not collect more data than is strictly necessary for their task,” Zenger said to the newspaper. “The fact that they themselves state that they collect data that they do not need indicates that they are doing more than is proportionate, thereby breaking the law.”