On September 4, 2023, HRIF.EU submitted the documents that mark the beginning of a cancellation procedure at the General Court of the European Union. The foundation aims to cancel a regulation that requires the unnecessary disclosure of private data in payment transactions and future crypto-asset transfers.
The first step in this annulment action was made possible with the support of the Dutch public. After an appeal through the blog of founder Simon Lelieveldt, the podcast of Holland Gold, the BNR Cryptocast podcast, and BNR radio, the first funds were collected. With that, the energy and attention could be directed towards initiating the cancellation procedure. This included the formal establishment of Foundation Human Rights in Finance.EU Foundation in August.
Call to the Ministry of Finance and other institutions to initiate the cancellation action
In addition to submitting the documents, the Human Rights in Finance.EU Foundation is pursuing a second approach. Governments at both national and European levels are obliged to adhere to the constitution and EU treaties. Thus, the Foundation has also called on Finance Minister Kaag to reconsider her stance and initiate the cancellation action herself. A couple of days later, Prime Minister Sunak in the UK has received a similar letter, as the UK are already planning to implement the rule per September 1, 2023.
The main argument in this discussion is as follows: if every police officer can access the necessary data, then there is no more need to transmitt highly sensitive private data (including your national ID) along with various transactions. The requirement to include this information in messages is unnecessary. Such a requirement constitutes an arbitrary infringement on privacy that goes against human rights.
What about this request for legal aid as a first step in the procedure?
From a technical perspective, initiating a procedure in the European court requires having a lawyer, and that lawyer submits the documents. In its early stages, our foundation has the means to initiate this procedure but not the resources to pay for its own lawyer. However, the European regulator has provided for the possibility of seeking legal assistance, and that’s the route the Foundation is currently taking. What makes this route unique is that it is one of the few procedures that must be done entirely on paper. The paperwork cannot be submitted electronically. So, we had to go to Luxembourg.
Help, the registry of the General Court is closed?
Arriving on the very last day we had to submit the request, September 4, 2023, we found that the General Court building was closed. This was because there was a street fair in Luxembourg: an unofficial holiday. But everyone was either in the city or at home, and fear gripped us.
Fortunately, someone was on duty and was very helpful in assisting our Foundation. After studying the documents for a while, access to the Registry of the General Court was granted to us, exclusively for our use. This allowed us to formally submit the documents and receive the coveted proof stamp.
Supported by Privacy First and United Dutch Bitcoin Companies
The action of Human Rights in Finance.EU should, for long-time observers, not really come as a surprise. Ever since 2019, Privacy First and the United Dutch Bitcoin Companies are on alert about the rampant data export that this rule encompasses. In may 2019, before the actual obligations were agreed to at the international level, both associations joined forces to appeal to the Dutch Finance Minister and not endorse it. The formal response of the Ministry was: don’t worry, this is only a Recommendation and due process in Europe will be followed.
Now that it turns out that the rule is still an arbitrary infringement of human rights, both associations individually wrote a support letter for the court (Amicus Curiae) to endorse and support the request of HRIF.EU. We are of course very grateful for this support, especially as it all occured during the last weeks of this holiday periode. And we hope that the General Court will understands how our board is, already over a long periode of time, very individually concerned by this Regulation, and has tried its utmost to prevent it from being adopted.
What’s up next ?
Now, on the one hand, we must wait to see what the Luxembourg court thinks of the Foundation’s request. On the other hand, we will continue to remind other governments and market participants of the clear unlawfulness of this Regulation.
For updates: just check our blog.