Anonymization guidelines

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Natural persons

Re: 1(a) Data about natural persons who are litigants

The data about natural persons who are litigants will be anonymized as follows:

  • Replace a litigant’s name with, for example, [claimant], [appellant], [respondent], [petitioner], [defendant], [accused], [interested party], etc.
  • In family law cases, the petitioner and respondent will be referred to as [the husband] and [the wife]
  • Replace name/address information with [address], [city/town]
  • Replace the full date of birth with the year of birth. The year of birth needs to remain, because the age may be relevant in assessing a decision. The anonymous version will then look like this, for instance: [date of birth] 1989.

Re: 1(b) Data about natural persons who are involved in the proceedings

The data about natural persons who are involved in the proceedings will be anonymized as follows:

  • Replace the names of the persons mentioned in the decision with [co-accused], [witness], [victim], [the man’s daughter], [accused’s bookkeeper], [claimant's daughter], etc.
  • Replace any data that may result in identification of these persons, such as [car registration number], [telephone number], [victim’s address], [witness’s profession], [knowledge], etc.

Re: 1(c) Data about natural persons who are involved in the proceedings professionally

The data about persons whose work is to administer justice, represent clients, provide advice, interpret, etc. will not be anonymized in the text of the decision. So, the names of the following persons will appear in the decision:

  • judges (even if they have been recused or disqualified themselves)
  • lawyers, bailiffs and professional representatives
  • interpreters, experts, advisors, psychiatrists and psychologists
Exceptions:
  • Reporting officers and prison workers will be anonymized in criminal cases as [reporting officer] or [prison worker]; youth care workers will be anonymized as [worker’s title + youth care]
  • Non-professional representatives will be anonymized if the data will lead directly to the litigant's name. For instance, if the decision states that ‘the spouse is acting as the representative’, this will become [representative]

Re: 1(d) Data about natural persons employed by legal entities or administrative bodies

The data about natural persons employed by legal entities or administrative bodies will be anonymized. Thus, the names of the management board members, management board representatives or the legal entity’s workers will be replaced by their role in the proceedings (see 1(a) and 1(b)).


Re: 1(e) Data about natural persons employed by legal entities or administrative bodies and acting in the capacity of performing a specific job

The data about natural persons employed by legal entities or administrative bodies and acting in the capacity of performing a specific job will not be anonymized. The names of a representative, accountant, insurer medical advisor or social security investigator will therefore appear in decisions.

 

Organized groups

Data about organized groups must be anonymized, including the groups’ addresses and places of business.

Examples:
  • An association that is not an official legal entity will become [association’s name]
  • A professional partnership will become [professional partnership's name]
  • A general partnership will become [general partnership’s name]

Note: The names of the individual partners must already be anonymized, because these are natural persons.

The table below contains a few more examples:

Term to be anonymizedAnonymize as followsComment
Litigant’s name (or corporate name)For example, '[accused]', '[co accused]', '[petitioner]', '[respondent]', '[claimant]', '[defendant]', '[interested party]', '[witness]', '[victim]'

Describe the person’s role in the proceedings.
In family law cases, replace the name with, for instance, '[the husband]', '[the wife]', '[first child]', '[second child]', '[third child]'.

Other namesFor example, '[consultancy firm]', '[claimant’s daughter]', '[defendant’s bookkeeper]', '[accused’s mother]', etc.Describe the person’s role.
Address‘[address]’
City/Town‘[city/town]’
Region‘[region]’In immigration cases, regions will not be anonymized.
Country of origin‘[country of origin]’In immigration cases, countries of origin will not be anonymized.
Escape route‘[escape route]’In immigration cases, escape routes will not be anonymized.
Travel route‘[travel route]’In immigration cases, travel routes will not be anonymized.
Place of business‘[place of business]’
Date of birth‘[date of birth] year of birth’
Tax and social insurance number'[tax and social insurance number]'
Assessment number'[assessment number]'
Passport number'[passport number]'
Car registration number'[car registration number]'
ID number'[ID number]'
Land registry codes'[land registry codes]'In spatial planning disputes, land registry codes will not be anonymized.
AmountIn tax cases, amounts must be anonymized if they can help to identify the interested party.
Firearm number'[firearm number]'
Car number plate'[car number plate]'
Number or letter sequence which can be used to identify a person‘[number sequence]' or '[letter sequence]'
File names (such as JPG and AVI)‘[file name 1]’In child pornography cases, a file or internet site name will be replaced with, respectively, ‘[file name 1]’, ‘[file name 2’] or '[internet site 1]', '[internet site 2]'.

Formulation of guideline

1999: The former supervisory committee for the project ‘Judicial System Electronic Desk [Elektronisch Loket Rechterlijke Organisatie (ELRO)]’ adopts the guidelines. After adoption by the supervisory committee, the guidelines are sent to the former Data Protection Authority [Registratiekamer]. In a written response, the Data Protection Authority indicates that it is glad that, in the formulation of the anonymization guidelines, consideration was given to recommendations previously made by it (the Data Protection Authority does not officially approve guidelines which may affect the processing of personal data). 1 January 2002: The Judicial System Electronic Desk is incorporated into the Office for Internet Systems and Applications for the Judicial System [Bureau Internet Systemen en Toepassingen Rechterlijke Organisatie (Bistro)] and becomes part of the Council for the Judiciary.
 
May 2006:Three different anonymization guidelines are harmonized and combined into one guideline.
 
19 May 2006:Rechtspraak.nl’s plenary editorial board meeting approves and adopts the guideline.
 
1 July 2006:Effective date of guideline.
 
2008:Rechtspraak.nl’s plenary editorial board decides that file and internet site names must be anonymized in child pornography cases.
 
12 June 2009:The plenary editorial board decides that firearm numbers and the like must be anonymized from now on.
 
1 January 2011:The Office for Internet Systems and Applications for the Judicial System ceases to exist. Technical management of Rechtspraak.nl becomes the responsibility of Spir-it now, and functional management is taken over by the content management team of the National Service Centre for the Dutch judiciary (de Rechtspraak) [LDCR]. This team is also responsible for secretarial services for the new Web Communications Committee [Commissie Communicatie Webvoorziengen].
 
26 March 2012:The presidents’ meeting decides to amend the guideline:

  • “The names of public-law bodies or institutions (municipalities, provinces, water boards, etc.) do not relate to private matters and will not be anonymized, not even if they themselves are interested parties.”
    is replaced with:
    “Public bodies and other public law institutions, such as independent administrative bodies and legal entities with statutory duties, do not relate to private matters. They will not be anonymized, not even if they themselves are interested parties or accused parties.”
  • In cases in which judges are recused, the names of the recused judges will not be anonymized.


29 March 2013:The Web Communications Committee decides to add, “Companies which should be anonymized in criminal cases and which complain under Section 552a of the Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure [WvSv] should therefore be anonymized."
 
1 November 2013:The Web Communications Committee agrees to the proposal by the National Consultative Body of Presidents of the Administrative-Law Sectors [LOVB] to clarify the guidelines as follows:

  • The following text is added:
    “In administrative-law decisions, legal entities must also be anonymized if punitive sanctions, such as imposition of administrative fines, are involved. For instance, if a fine is imposed under the Dutch Foreign Nationals (Employment) Act [Wet Arbeid Vreemdelingen] or the Working Conditions Act [Arbeidsomstandighedenwet], the legal entity’s name must be anonymized.”
  • The following passage is moved two points forward:
    “Data concerning such organized groups as associations without legal personality or general or limited partnerships will be anonymized.”
  • The following text is added to the same passage:
    “For example, the organized group’s name, address and place of business. The names of the individual partners must already be anonymized, because these are natural persons.”
  • In addition, the following passage:
    “Any data which directly identifies a natural person must be processed.
    This specifically means the following:
    “Name, address and city/town and birthplace (…)”
    is replaced with:
    “Any data which directly identifies a natural person, legal entity or organized group must be processed.
    This specifically means the following:
    name (or corporate name), address and city or town/place of business and birthplace (...)”


21 January 2015:The Web Communications Committee decides to anonymize Youth Care Office [Bureau Jeugdzorg] workers from now on.

21 January 2015:The Web Communications Committee agrees to the editorial revision of the guideline and publication on Rechtspraak.nl. This revision does not result in any actual substantive changes.

7 December 2017:The Web Communications Committee agrees to amend the guideline so that legal entities or administrative bodies will be anonymized if a request for a liquidation order or suspension of payments for a legal entity or administrative body (by the legal entity or administrative body or by someone else) is denied.

Anonymization

General principle: Any data that directly identifies a natural person, a natural person at a legal entity, or an organized group must be anonymized.

1. Natural persons*:

  • The data about natural persons who are litigants will be anonymized.
  • The data about natural persons who are involved in the proceedings will be anonymized.
  • The data about natural persons who are involved in the proceedings professionally will not be anonymized.
  • The data about natural persons employed by legal entities or administrative bodies will be anonymized.
  • The data about natural persons employed by legal entities or administrative bodies and acting in the capacity of performing a specific job will not be anonymized.

*‘Natural persons’ will also mean deceased persons. The data about deceased persons will be anonymized.

2. The data about legal entities and administrative bodies will not be anonymized (note: exceptions may apply, depending on the area of law).

3. The data about organized groups will be anonymized.

4. The data about public bodies and public-law institutions will not be anonymized.

The anonymized data will be replaced with neutral terms indicating the role that a party had in the proceedings. In each instance, substitutions and/or omissions will be placed between square brackets [...] to indicate that the original text has been changed.
 
Each category will include its own exceptions, which will be detailed further below with examples.

Legal entities and administrative bodies

Civil law

Data about legal entities and administrative bodies will not be anonymized, unless this can be traced back to a natural person. A decision in which a request for a liquidation order or suspension of payments for a legal entity or administrative body (by the legal entity or administrative body or by someone else) is denied will, however, be anonymized. The legal entity’s organizational form (BV [private limited company], NV [public limited company], Inc., etc.) will remain.

Administrative law

Data about legal entities and administrative bodies will not be anonymized, unless this can be traced back to a natural person, or a punitive sanction, such as the imposition of an administrative fine, is involved. For instance, if a fine is imposed under the Foreign Nationals (Employment) Act or the Working Conditions Act, there must be anonymization.

Tax law

Specific rules to protect taxpayers’ personal and financial information apply to tax cases (Sections 27g, 30 and 67 of the Dutch State Taxes Act [Algemene wet inzake rijksbelastingen]).
 
The data about legal entities will be anonymized in tax cases. The legal entity’s organizational form (BV, NV, Inc., etc.) will remain.
 
Data about banks, insurance companies, trade associations and listed companies may be indicated, unless they are interested parties.

Criminal law

In decisions in criminal cases, data about legal entities that are the accused parties will be anonymized, except for companies with monopoly positions.
 
Companies which should be anonymized in criminal cases and which complain under Section 552a of the Dutch Code of Criminal Procedure should therefore be anonymized.

Public bodies and other public law institutions

Public bodies and other public law institutions, such as independent administrative bodies and legal entities with statutory duties, do not relate to private matters. They will not be anonymized, not even if they themselves are interested parties or accused parties.
 
Examples:
Water boards, municipalities, provinces and ministries.

See also: