Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Italian tax privacy -- or lack thereof

Oh. My. Goodness.

It seems the outgoing government of Italy has seen fit to put up, with no prior warning, a web site with the tax details of every Italian taxpayer. The information includes, at least, income and tax paid.

Can they do that? Looks like they just did.

Human nature being what it is, the site was soon overwhelmed with traffic and, according to the BBC, has been or is to be taken down. It's not completely clear to me whether the "privacy watchdogs" mentioned have the authority to get it taken down, or are just demanding it be taken down, but the statement that the site was up for 24 hours suggests that someone took it down. In which case the interesting question becomes who was able to scrape and store how much data about whom during that window ... [My understanding from later articles is that the watchdogs in question were governmental agencies with the authority to have the site taken down, and that it was taken down ... but not before a lot of people had had their fun]

I'd be curious to know how all this squares with Article 8 of Chapter II of the EU Charter of Fundamental Human Rights. My guess would be that it doesn't. But then, my understanding is that the CFHR doesn't actually have any legally binding status.

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