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The UWV, the Dutch welfare agency, illegally collected data from benefit recipients to see if they were illegally staying abroad while receiving WW welfare. This emerged from investigations by NOS and Nieuwsuur, two Dutch news outlets.


By illegally collecting data, the benefits agency violated the principles of the Privacy Act. Also, because of this conduct, proven fraudsters actually go free. The Dutch Privacy Authority Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP) has asked the UWV for clarification.

The UWV, the Dutch welfare agency, illegally collected data from welfare recipients to see if they were illegally staying abroad while receiving WW payments.

Internal alarm signals previously did not lead to a shutdown of the system, but now 580 ongoing investigations are stopped.

The behavior of visitors to UWV sites was tracked and analyzed. The UWV used IP addresses of logged-in visitors to and to check whether someone was abroad. The benefits agency also placed tracking cookies to track those people without proper cookie consent.

UWV regrets: ‘We find this extremely unfortunate’

The UWV expresses regrets: “We find this extremely unfortunate. We set high standards for ourselves and find it important to put trust in people first. That we did miss something, we find very annoying.”

The “risk scan,” as the UWV itself calls it, was extensively tested, according to the agency. “During this process, all signals were always on green. But with the knowledge of today, it turns out that we still made a mistake.”

The illegal data collection was only secretly stopped at the beginning of this year after urgent advice from the government’s regular law firm. That so-called national lawyer ruled completely differently from the UWV lawyers.
According to the UWV spokesman, this is because “one piece of legislation gets in the way of another,” “which is why nothing has ever come forward from our own privacy lawyers.” The state attorney ruled clearly, stating that the UWV had gone way too far.

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‘We put everything in place to deal with vulnerable people’

The Union FNV “is shocked,” vice president Kitty Jong tells NOS. “People are already immediately suspicious. This was using sledgehammers to crack nuts”

The union also stands up for welfare recipients. Jong is especially angry that unemployed citizens are being investigated. “We go out of our way to target vulnerable people who have just lost their jobs. While the big fraud is committed by tax evaders in Blaricum and Wassenaar. Let them throw a dragnet over that.”

WW recipients must log on to the UWV website to prove, for example, that they are fulfilling their obligation to apply for a job. Going abroad is only allowed under strict conditions.

According to the UWV, the risk scan was instituted in response to fraud with WW benefits by immigrant workers. The risk scan yielded 3,600 investigations. In 460 cases it led to adjustments of benefits, termination of benefits and fines.


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