Norwegian motorists set to pay fine after China leak

Picture from one of the roads where Ferde was in charge of charging toll tax -Photo: MARIT HOMMEDAL / NTB

The Norwegian toll operating company Ferde received in September a NOK five million fine for illegally having sent pictures of payment cards and license plates to a Chinese company that was hired to help collect toll money from Norwegian vehicle owners. Now the same people who had their personal data illegally handled have to pay the fine by paying higher toll taxes, NRK writes.

Ferde is the toll operator of the Norwegians counties Vestland, Rogaland and Agder. Their system works by taking a photograph of the license plate of the vehicles that pass through the checkpoints without a prepaid sticker on the windshield.

Norwegian media NRK last year revealed that the photos that were not able to be read automatically by a machine were sent to a company in China where they would be read manually. This was however illegal according to an investigation by the Norwegian Data Protection Authority which issued them the NOK five million fine for breaching privacy rules by handing over personal data to China.

Information about which motorist was where, at what time, was illegal to send out of the country the investigation concluded.
The practice of sending personal photos to China went on between 2017 and 2019 and according to the verdict, around 10 million photos were sent to China annually.

Ferde now says that the fine from the verdict will have to be paid through increased toll expenses for the Norwegian motorists.

“Toll money is the only income Ferde has. All expenses for the LLC company are paid by toll tax. This fine is handled in the same manner as all other operating costs,” Chief of Communications in Ferde, Marit Husa, says.

Also, Dan Femoen, who is the leader of the control committee in Vestland county Municipality, confirms that the fine has to be paid by the Norwegian drivers themselves.

“Unfortunately, yes. Ferde has no other income sources than toll taxation. In reality that means that the motorists passing through the toll is going to pay the fine,” Dan Femoen says.

Ferde has now canceled the contract with the Chinese company and will instead do the manual photo analysis internally in the company.

About Lasse Sandholdt

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Lasse Sandholdt

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