Dutch regulator says banks shouldn’t snoop on customer payments to churches, casinos, or sex clubs

Banks have access to a treasure trove of data about their customers and their habits. What data they’re allowed to access, and what they do with it, is an increasingly pressing question as more payments go digital.

This came up recently in the Netherlands, one of the most cashless (and, perhaps, open minded) countries in Europe. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (or AP, its Dutch acronym) said it had heard from many people who are concerned about banks using their payment data to deliver personalized advertising. The privacy watchdog said in a letter (in Dutch) to the Dutch Banking Association (NVB) that it was concerned about non-financial information that gets recorded, such as location, time, and the payer and receiver of transactions.

These “data can thus refer to payment transactions with hospitals, pharmacies, casinos, sex clubs or otherwise, from which special personal data and other sensitive data can be derived,” the AP said in an appendix to the letter. The information could also be used to expose things like memberships of religious institutions, trade unions, or political parties, which could pose a risk to the rights and freedoms of bank customers.

The data watchdog appeared to be referring to Amsterdam-based ING, which was reportedly planning to use customer payment data to send them more relevant text message and email offers. The bank said in an email that it was in talks with the regulator and that does not currently “send its customers personal offers for relevant ING products and services based on transaction data, and will not start these practices for the time being either.”

Source: Yahoo Finance

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