How does the Government of the Netherlands deal with personal details?

Personal data refers to information that can be traced back to personal details.  The Personal Data Protection Act sets demands regarding the processing of personal details by the government.Example:  personal details may include a name or a home address, but e-mail addresses may also be personal details. In addition, there are also special personal details such as medical data , data about ethnicity, data about political convictions, criminal data, and data about one's sexual orientation. When personal details are processed, it is stated exactly which data are used for certain purposes. The Dutch Government only uses personal details for the purpose for which you provided these details. The requirements for processing special personal details are stricter than for general personal details.  

The processing of personal details by the IND

The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) collects and processes personal details of foreign nationals who want to stay in the Netherlands or want to be a Dutch citizen and of Dutch citizens who are involved in the application for a residence permit of a foreign national, for example: the partner.  In order to make a decision, the IND needs information, mostly personal details.

The IND processes personal details of foreign nationals as part of a regular application for a residence permit or an asylum application. The IND also receives personal details from the (recognised) sponsor. The IND itself obtains personal details from the foreign national in question when submitting his application and from authorities through automated system links such as Suwinet-Inkijk.

The IND needs a lot of personal details in order to make a decision. It concerns general personal details such as name, address, place of residence, telephone number, nationality, date and place of birth, mother tongue and personal numbers prescribed by law, such as the CSN number and the foreign national number. In addition, the IND also processes special personal details, for example: medical data, ethnicity, political convictions, criminal data and sexual orientation. Special personal details are in particular important when processing asylum applications. People can, for example, apply for asylum because they are persecuted due to their political convictions or because they belong to a certain religious or population group. 

Purpose of the processing

Privacy legislation stipulates that the IND is only allowed to process personal details for clearly defined purposes. The objectives of the IND have been laid down in the Foreign Nationals Act (article 107 of the Foreign Nationals Act). In brief it concerns the implementation of the Foreign Nationals Act, the Dutch Nationals Act and the statutory regulations related to the implementation of the Foreign Nationals Act. This description of the purpose in principle regards the processing of general personal details. In order to process special personal details a strict description of the purposes applies (article 107a of the Foreign Nationals Act). Special personal details are processed by the IND insofar as this is necessary for granting the visa, the admission and stay of a foreign national. In article 7.1a VV it is described for which actions the processing of special personal details is necessary.Personal details are also used for accountability and control reports. However, these reports do not include any data that can be traced back to persons. 

Providing personal details to third parties

The starting-point is that all data provided by a foreign national must be handled confidentially. However, by virtue of the Foreign Nationals Act the IND is entitled and sometimes obliged to provide data and information to government organisations that they need to perform their tasks . These data also include personal details and information. This, for example, enables the IND to provide data to the Tax and Customs Administration if this is necessary for performing tasks for the Tax and Customs Administration by virtue of the State Taxes Act. The IND assesses whether the provision of data is necessary and whether the privacy of the person in question is not harmed unnecessarily. The IND has made written agreements with various government organisations about how data are provided. These covenants are often published in the Government Gazette. A stricter regime applies to the provision of special personal details than for general personal details.

The special status of personal details in the asylum process

There are extra guarantees for processing personal details related to asylum. On account of its policy laid down in section C1/1 of the Aliens Act implementation Guidelines the IND treats the information provided by the foreign national strictly confidential, with due observance of the privacy legislation and the privacy regulations for the automated informative systems, in which the foreign national is registered. The IND does not provide any information about the foreign national to third parties, except on the basis of statutory obligations or except with the explicit permission of the foreign national. The idea behind this is that persons who apply for asylum are in a vulnerable position and must feel free to provide the information that the IND needs to decide about the application, without having to be afraid that this information is passed on.

Preventing unlawful processings

The IND wants to prevent unlawful processings of personal details. This is why the IND has taken several measures and it applies the Civil Service Information Protection Baseline (BIR 2012) in its information security policy. Some measures are technical; they concern the way in which the ICT systems are arranged and protected. Other measures are organisational. For example, there is a work instruction for employees and attention is paid to privacy on the shopfloor. The work instructions for employees is public.

Retention periods

The retention periods applied by the IND have been laid down in the records policy. The records policy consists of three phases. The first phase is the period in which it is important in order to perform tasks that personal files are always available at once and in an ethical way (three years). The second phase is the period within which the IND must be able to answer questions from society and account for the policy and its implementation (one to fifteen years). The third phase is inspired by the historical importance. Personal files that are older than 15 years will be processed in order to decide which data have to be kept. The result of this is that a part of the personal file will be destroyed and another part will be taken to the National Archives in order to be stored. The so-called selection lists (a Basic Selection document) applies:

Different retention periods apply to certain data. For fingerprints and facial images (biometrics) it was decided that they will not be kept for more than ten years after a decision has been taken about an application, or when other specific residency procedures have been followed.

Your rights

On account of privacy legislation you are entitled to request a summary about the personal details processed about you by the IND (right of inspection).  You can also request to change your personal details, delete them (right of correction) or hide them. Furthermore, you are entitled to lodge an objection due to special personal circumstances. You can submit these requests in writing  by sending a letter to the IND, Postbus 17, 9560 AA Ter Apel. 

More information?

If you need more information about the processing of personal details, you can consult the above-mentioned work instructions on our website. You can obviously also contact us.

The Dutch DPA supervises processing of personal data in order to ensure compliance with laws that regulate the use of personal data.