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BY THE DUTCH DATA PROTECTION AUTHORITY: Necessary AP Growth To Protect Citizens In Digitising Netherlands

BY THE DUTCH DATA PROTECTION AUTHORITY: necessary AP growth to protect citizens in digitising Netherlands

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The Personal Data Authority (AP) must expand considerably in the next term of office in order to protect citizens and help businesses in the digitising Netherlands. Developments such as facial recognition, internet of things, algorithms, smartphone technology, tracking software, data trade and sexting require adequate supervision. In order to be able to carry out its statutory tasks properly, the AP must grow from 184 FTEs to 470 FTEs and more than €66 million by 2025. This is set out in the ‘Multi-annual budget 2021-2025’ that the PfA has presented today.

The AP has drawn up this multi-annual budget – in addition to next year’s regular budget – on the basis of a study carried out by KMPG into the necessary capacity of the AP. KPMG did this on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Security (JenV) and the AP. In the multi-year budget, the AP set out a growth path. This indicates what growth is needed to be able to supervise properly.

Aleid Wolfsen, chairman of the PfA: “The work of the PfA affects everyone. And with the digitisation of our economy and our daily lives, the work of the PfA is only increasing and becoming more important”.

“That is why we need to invest ‘at the front’ in good information and close supervision. So that personal data are properly protected from the outset. Because if you have to intervene afterwards, it is already too late. Then there will already be damage to citizens and businesses’.

Digitisation and innovation

The Netherlands is one of the most digitised countries in the EU and even in the world. Moreover, our country ranks among the top 5 most innovative countries in the world. And it counts many international companies and large start-ups.

As a result, the processing of personal data is growing very rapidly, with the associated risks. Malpractices involving artificial intelligence and algorithms are often linked to the processing of personal data. Abuse with artificial intelligence and algorithms is often linked to the processing of personal data, which is why the supervision of this in those cases falls under the AP.

However, due to a lack of capacity at the PfA, this supervision is still not getting off the ground sufficiently. This can lead, for example, to discrimination, exclusion and other violations of citizens’ rights. Good supervision is essential to protect our citizens and our ever-digitising economy. Especially in these times of crisis.

However, the PfA is still in its infancy in terms of its scope and resources, and it is struggling with ever-increasing job insecurity. As a result, the Netherlands does not meet the statutory supervision requirements. That is why the Ministry of JenV and the AP have had independent research carried out by KPMG into what growth is required for adequate supervision.

Wolfsen: “Because more and more of our lives are digitised, our personal details are in an infinite number of files. At the bank, the doctor, the police, the municipality, the Tax and Customs Administration, technology companies, you name it”.

“With this data about your life, your health, your finances; organisations and governments have to handle this with care. Because all these data say a lot about you and what your life looks like. That organisations and governments handle your data with care, and that what is private really remains private, is something we supervise”.

Growth to a fully-fledged supervisor

Virtually every organisation processes personal data. As a result, the AP supervises more organisations than any other supervisor. With the current 184 FTEs, the PfA is not yet in a position to implement this adequately. By way of illustration, other ‘broad’ supervisors such as the AFM, ACM and NVWA have 600, 641 and 2,440 FTEs respectively. The multi-year budget shows how the AP can develop into a fully-fledged supervisor.

The KPMG study confirms previous studies (AEF 2017, PwC 2018). It also found that the AP’s budget must continue to grow and that tasks and resources are not yet in balance.

How to proceed?

Today Minister Dekker announced that he will increase the available budget for the AP for 2021 to an amount equal to the realised costs of 2020. With this commitment, the Minister will perpetuate the current occupation of the 184 FTEs in 2021. It will then be up to the House of Representatives and the next cabinet to use the KPMG study and the multi-year budget to give room for the further development of the AP.


Wolfsen: “It is good that Minister Dekker has made it possible to invest in our organisation. And we also welcome the fact that the Minister has indicated that this can be continued in the coming year. For this year, we have already been given room to anticipate this. But even in the coming term of office we will still have to expand considerably.


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