On August 24th, after a long preparation and run-up Simon Lelieveldt and Jacob Boersma established HRIF.EU as a formal foundation and legal entity under Dutch law.
Well, everyone is familiar with the phenomenon in their own environment. Your bank account gets blocked. Afterwards, you’re asked to provide various pieces of information within very short deadlines. If you don’t comply, your account can be terminated. And all with the tone of: you need to prove that you’re not a money launderer or terrorist.
The significant irritation that this causes among bank customers is justified. In their approach, banks violate customers’ fundamental right to privacy and, through lengthy and complicated blocking procedures, wrongly prevent customers from accessing their own money. Moreover, the customer has to prove their innocence instead of the bank demonstrating suspicion of money laundering.
Precisely because customers are directly affected in terms of their wallet/debit card, they don’t dare to individually stand up for their interests. Because you might easily end up losing your account or being unable to withdraw money for a week.
What is the purpose of the foundation?
The foundation aims to keep banks and governments in check, preventing them from going too far with their violation of fundamental rights and their actual investigative behavior and regulations. The goal is to ensure that excessive regulations, even before they come into effect, can be halted, for example through legal action, based on their conflict with European human rights treaties.
Is privacy really in such a dire state?
Answer: Yes. Lawsuits are necessary to compel banks to continue serving their customers. To force regulators to adhere to European treaties concerning human rights. Lawsuits are needed, such as the one Bitonic brought against DNB, to regain in court the right to not violate customer privacy. The issue lies in the excessive regulation that is poorly written and disproportionate from the outset.
Help my bank is blocking me !
The foundation is quickly getting underway. The founder, Simon Lelieveldt, has registered a TV format this month: ‘Help, my bank is blocking me’. Simon Lelieveldt commented on this: “This is inspired by similar TV formats that stand up for the customer. I hear far too many distressing stories from individual customers who are getting squeezed and wondering if the bank’s behavior is acceptable. Dutch people abroad, individuals with ‘wrong’ professions, sometimes people of different nationalities, and so on. The improper profiling and pressure exerted by banks truly concern me. It’s only getting worse at the moment and is perfect for more publicity and critical questioning of banks.”
Legal challenge to excessive EU regulation on transfer of funds/crypto
The foundation will soon challenge a far-reaching EU regulation at the European General Court and request its withdrawal. This week, Minister Kaag has been urgently called upon to take the initiative as a member state to have an excessively disproportionate and careless EU regulation annulled at the Court of Justice. If this regulation isn’t contested, the privacy of all citizens will be at risk for the foreseeable future.
And since it’s an EU regulation (and we don’t have a constitutional court in the Netherlands, but Europe does!), the European Court of Justice is the appropriate venue to address this issue. HRIF.EU is going to do just that, for the well-being and privacy of citizens, and to ensure that companies won’t be obligated to violate privacy beforehand. Because prevention is better than cure, especially when it comes to privacy (once lost, it’s hard to regain).
After explanations on social media, crowdfunding from the public has quickly gained momentum. A solid foundation to establish the foundation.
What’s so concerning about the regulation, this EU travel rule regulation ?
The details and objections are outlined in an extensive letter to Minister Kaag of the Ministry of Finance, with the hope that her involvement in human rights will lead her to decide to withdraw the regulation. You can download the letter here or read our summarized consultation response in this post. But to give you an idea:
Imagine that after every phone call, your service provider has to transmit your name, address, and identity details to the provider of the person you called. Worldwide, for all transactions, without any justification. That would be going way too far, especially considering that the police can request that information if there’s any suspicion. That’s why the Court of Justice has explicitly prohibited this in the past within the telecommunications sector.
However, this obligation is suddenly introduced for payment and cryptocurrency transactions through this regulation. This doesn’t hold up legally and constitutes a significant intrusion into privacy. The foundation is urging Minister Kaag not to follow Uber’s example by attempting to get away with a clear and unnecessary violation of privacy, but rather to safeguard human rights by as a member state requesting the European Court of Justice to remove this regulation.
You can read more about the background of the annulment procedure and the reference to literature etc on the personal blog of founder Simon Lelieveldt