Dutch authorities make identity theft easy

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As of late, many journalists have turned finding out how badly privacy is protected by government institutions into a kind of sport.

Reinier Vermeer, a journalist from Webwereld, rang up the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) to find out about the data they had on him, and a few days later he got a letter from them with all the details of his neighbours.

The letter contained the complete names, dates of birth and social insurance numbers of his next-door neighbours, all of which is enough to ask for an online ID code, for doing taxes and even request a new passport using your own picture. It’s like Christmas for identity thieves and it goes against everything the Data Protection Law stands for.

And if said journalist was a real baddie, he could run around for a long time posing as his neighbour and commit all kinds of atrocities. The police in the journalist’s area are currently trying out a system where if you lose your passport, you don’t need to file a report with the police anymore, you just show up at some municipal office and file for a new passport. And unless his neighbour recently ordered a new biometric passport, there is no way of checking whether the journalist is who he says he is. And imagine the neighbour’s fun of trying to prove he is who he is.

So you’re a a hardcore baddie (think terrorist), you have a proper though technically illegal European passport, and the Dutch authorities would probably investigate the neighbour’s claim of having had his identity stolen for months before you’d get caught for anything, all because some stupid employee at the Employee Insurance Agency is too stupid/lazy/unmotivated to follow the rules or even learn them.

See also: Man harassed by police for 13 years after identity theft

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