Big firms gain right to look at your bank account details

24 August 2018

Big firms gain right to look at your bank account details

If the EU gets its way, banks in the Netherlands and other member states will shortly be obliged to give multinationals access to your bank account, allowing them to see everything you've bought as well as when and where the transactions took place. Massive firms such as Google and Facebook can hardly wait. They already know what you've been looking for on line, your tastes, who your friends are and any events you've booked for. Soon they'll know also what stuff you're buying anywhere and everywhere, what shops you're buying it in and the exact time of your purchase.  So we should no longer be surprised if Facebook shows us ads for diet programmes because we've been buying more fastfood. In addition to all that, they'll soon know how high your energy bills are and when you're salary is due.

The EU directive which will make this possible, 'Payment Service Directive 2' (PSD2) seemed originally well-intentioned, attempting to break the power of the banks, which as things stand are the only entities other than yourself who have the right to examine your bank accounts. The outcome, however, should not have been that still more of our personal data can be acquired by the likes of Google and Facebook, making them even more powerful.

That's why the SP  is putting forward a number of supplementary measures aimed at protecting people's privacy. If these are adopted banks will, for example, be forced to provide clients with an annual overview listing all companies who have been given access to your bank details. This would prevent people from being intruded on in this way because they once, perhaps unknowingly, agreed to their bank details being shared. People will also have the right to withdraw their permission for such access in a straightforward manner and have their data speedily removed.

These are just two examples of measures which are not included in the current text of the directive. It remains unclear how much space the directive offers for interpretation by member states, though Brussels' preference for 'complete harmonisation' suggests that there will be no wiggle room. The member states will therefore simply have to implement the directive and keep their opinions to themselves.

The debate on this in our national parliament will take place immediately after the recess. If it turns out that we – the elected representatives of the Dutch people - are to be given no freedom, either by the European Commission or by our own government, to protect our citizens against predictable abuses, then the directive entirely misses its mark. Taken as a whole it represents a step backwards, rather than any kind of progress.

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