The names and addresses of thousands of EU drivers were “illegally accessed” by Italian police and shared with the company collecting Ulez fines, investigators believe.
The claims come from the Belgium government which says that an unnamed police department sent the personal information of motorists to Euro Parking Collections, a firm employed by Transport for London (TfL).
Authorities in France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain have also claimed that their databases have been breached by an agent in Italy.
A Belgium MP has called it “the biggest data and privacy breach in EU history”.
EU drivers’ data was “illegally accessed” by Italian police and shared with the company collecting Ulez fines
Since Brexit, the UK cannot automatically access the personal information of EU residents, and five European countries have accused TfL of illegally obtaining the information.
Over 100 French drivers are suing TfL due to the alleged fraudulent means used to acquire their personal information, whilst truck drivers from the Netherlands and challenging over £6.5milliion worth of fines.
The penalty notices first started being sent out in 2021, when Sadiq Khan’s Clear Air scheme was first launched, and some total as high as thousands of euros.
Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon has demanded that TfL stop using Euro Parking to fine EU citizens until it is sure the company is legally compliant.
Five European countries have accused TfL of illegally obtaining their citizens’ information
“This is yet another worrying testimony calling into question the practices being used by TfL and its partner to collect drivers’ information from inside the EU,” she said.
“If this data is not being collected lawfully it would represent an extremely serious data breach that would seriously damage the reputation of London as a world-leading tourist destination, in addition to the reputation of the mayor of London and TfL.”
Many of the drivers who were given fines were not aware that they had to register their vehicles prior to coming to London. Therefore, those who planned a spontaneous trip to the capital were essentially guaranteed a fine.
One driver from France was fined £25,000 by TfL, despite his vehicle being exempt, The Guardian has reported.
The Ulez penalty notices first started being sent out in 2021
Belgium MP Michael Freilich has accused TfL of using European drivers as a “cash cow” in order to obtain money through incorrect penalties.
Freilich said: “This is possibly one of the largest privacy and data breaches in EU history, but so far no concrete action has been taken while responsibilities are being shunted on to drivers.”
TfL, which speaks on behalf of Euro Parking, said: “Any company working on our behalf is contractually required to ensure that data is processed in line with the relevant data protection legislation.
“We work closely with EPC to ensure all elements of the contract are being adhered to and have mechanisms in place should they not be fulfilled. EPC have confirmed that they have not used an Italian police department to access driver details.”