Dutch City Fined For Wi-Fi Tracking Says It Will Appeal | WGN 720 radio
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – The Dutch privacy watchdog said on Thursday it had fined the eastern town of Enschede for following people using cell phone Wi-Fi signals in a system used to measure crowds. The city council said it was appealing the decision and a fine of 600,000 euros ($ 730,000).
The Dutch data protection authority said Enschede was using sensors to record phones’ Wi-Fi signals to determine how busy it was in the city center. He said that “if you watch for longer which phone passes which sensor, then count the changes to track people.”
The government watchdog said the breach of privacy laws began in May 2018 and the municipality shut down the system on May 1, 2020.
The authority said Enschede did not intend to track individuals and had no indication that tracking had taken place, “but the deployment of Wi-Fi tracking that makes this possible is in itself a serious breach ”of Dutch privacy law.
The mayor of Enschede, Onno van Veldhuizen, said the municipality felt “unfairly punished for something we did not want and which in fact did not happen”. He added: “Ensuring the privacy of our visitors in the city center has been a condition from the start.”
But the vice-president of the data protection authority, Monique Verdier, said that an important principle was at stake.
“It is not expected that anyone can know which store, doctor, church or mosque we are visiting. This is and must be kept private. So that people can be themselves, without feeling inhibited by a possible registration, ”she says.
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