Governments in Europe allege hundreds of thousands of EU citizens have been wrongly fined for driving within London’s ultra low emission zone (ULEZ). Transport for London (TfL) has been accused of illegally obtaining the names and addresses of citizens from five EU countries to issue fines.
Britain can no longer access EU citizens’ personal details, and transport authorities in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain have told the Guardian newspaper drivers’ details cannot be shared with the UK to enforce ULEZ.
They claim agents acting for TfL’s contractor Euro Parking Collection obtained registered keepers’ details through illegal means.
Belgian MP Michael Freilich told the publication TfL is treating drivers from Europe as a “cash cow”. TfL said there is an absence of individual data-sharing agreements with EU countries, but local laws allowed authorities to share registered keeper information with Britain to enforce traffic regulations.
Mr 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.”
Campaigners have accused Euro Parking of getting round data protection rules by using agents based in the EU to request driver data but without disclosing it is for enforcement in Britain.
The Guardian reports that EU countries have insisted national laws allow the UK to access personal data only for criminal offences, not civil ones.
TfL, speaking 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 European Parking Collection to ensure all elements of the contract are being adhered to and have mechanisms in place should they not be fulfilled.
“Euro Parking make it clear when they submit requests for keeper data in EU countries that they are acting on behalf of TfL, for enforcement of road-user charging in London, even when they route those requests through a third party.
“Euro Parking has not been prevented from accessing keeper data for drivers in EU countries.”