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Denmark’s tax agency 'uses phone data' to check returns

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Denmark’s tax agency 'uses phone data' to check returns
Denmark's tax authorities say they only release limited information relating to methods used for checking against potential evasion. Photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

Danish tax authorities are able to use geolocation data to check whether tax payers are accurately reporting information related to their deductions and other information, according to a newspaper report.

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The Danish Tax Agency (Skat) and Udbetaling Danmark, the state entity which administrates social welfare payments, both use geolocation data to check up on tax deductions, subsidies and benefits, newspaper Politiken reports.

According to the newspaper, the public authorities do not collect location data themselves but more probably purchase it from telecommunications companies, websites or apps that collect it.

Both Skat and Udbetaling Danmark are within their rights to use data from publicly available sources. The Tax Ministry did not provide an answer to Politiken on the question of where its geolocation data is sourced and how it is used.

An expert in individual privacy at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Anja Møller Pedersen, told Politiken that it was likely that the authorities can use the data legally.

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But collection of data should be limited to a specified sample of the public and must be fair in relation to any offence they are suspected of, she said.

Pedersen also cited potential issues related to the origin and authenticity of the data.

The Danish Tax Authority (Skattestyrelsen) legal director, Katrine Ledam Rasmussen, said on Tuesday that the authority only makes public “general information” related to the agency’s checks.

That is because “more detailed information could be abused by businesses and individuals who intentionally try to break the rules and avoid paying correct taxes,” she said.

The Tax Authority meanwhile declined to state the purpose of 16 of 25 AI systems and declined to clarify the type of information used as a data base for a further 7 AI systems.

“It is nothing new or special in relation to AI models for the Tax Authority to not publish information about its [evasion] checks,” Rasmussen said.

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