Italian police are suspected of unlawfully accessing and disclosing the names and addresses of thousands of EU drivers. It is believed they shared the data with Euro Parking Collections, a company responsible for collecting Ulez penalties on behalf of Transport for London (TfL).
Belgium’s government has raised concerns with the Italian data protection authority, alleging that an unnamed police department misused its powers. The Belgian government says the Italian police provided personal details of Belgian drivers to Euro Parking Collections. TfL employ Euro Parking to enforce fines for London’s low emission zone (Lez) and ultra-low emission zone.
Similar breaches are reported in the Netherlands and Germany, when an Italian agent accessed databases illegally. A Belgian MP described it as “the biggest data and privacy breach in EU history.”
TfL has refuted these claims, asserting that Euro Parking did not use an Italian police department to access driver information.
Fines allegedly issued illegally
These fines are allegedly issued unlawfully since Brexit. Since the transiational phase ended in December 2020, UK national laws only permit accessing personal data of EU citizens for criminal offences. Breaching Ulez rules is considered a civil contravention.
The situation casts doubt on how TfL can enforce compliance with London’s clean air regulations for foreign vehicles post-Brexit. This controversy follows the suspension of a Belgian court bailiff for unlawfully accessing the Belgian vehicle database on behalf of Euro Parking.
Liberal Democrat London assembly member Caroline Pidgeon has urged TfL to halt the use of Euro Parking for fining EU citizens until legal compliance is ensured, the Guardian newspaper reports. Pidgeon cites potential damage to London’s international reputation.
An investigation by the Guardian revealed that hundreds of thousands of British immigrants and EU nationals received Ulez fines since the Brexit transitional period ended in December 2020. Some of those fines were worth thousands of pounds.
Euro Parking has issued over 330,000 penalties. Many of the fines relate to failure to pre-register emissions-compliant vehicles or incorrect classification under the Lez scheme.