SyRI legislation in breach of European Convention on Human Rights | Feb. 13, 2020 |
The Hague District Court has delivered a judgment today in a case about the Systeem Risico Indicatie, or SyRI. SyRI is a legal instrument used by the Dutch government to detect various forms of fraud, including social benefits, allowances, and taxes fraud. The court has ruled that the legislation regulating the use of SyRI violates higher law. The court has decided that this legislation does not comply with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which protects the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.
Use of SyRI insufficiently transparent and verifiable
After a review of the objects of the SyRI legislation, namely preventing and combating fraud in the interest of economic welfare, in relation to the violation of private life by the legislation, the court has drawn the conclusion that in its current form the SyRI legislation fails to comply with Article 8 paragraph 2 ECHR. The court has decided that the legislation does not strike a fair balance, as required under the ECHR, which would warrant a sufficiently justified violation of private life. In that respect, the application of SyRI is insufficiently transparent and verifiable. As such, the SyRI legislation is unlawful, because it violates higher law and, as a result, has been declared as having no binding effect.
How Dutch activists got an invasive fraud detection algorithm banned
The Dutch government has been using SyRI, a secret algorithm, to detect possible social welfare fraud. Civil rights activists took the matter to court and managed to get public organizations to think about less repressive alternatives.
In its fight against fraud, the Dutch government has been cross-referencing personal data about citizens in various databases since 2014. This system, called SyRI (for "system risk indication"), seeks out "unlikely citizen profiles" that warrant further investigation. Despite major objections from the Dutch Data Protection Authority and the Council of State, SyRI has been implemented without any transparent process for citizens to see what happens to their data.
The idea is this: if some government agency suspects fraud with benefits, allowances, or taxes in a specific neighborhood, it can make use of SyRI. Municipalities, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), the social security bank, inspectors of the Ministry of Social Affairs, and the employment and the tax authorities all have access to the system. SyRI decides which citizens in the neighborhood require further investigation.
SyRI has not been a success for the government. In its first five years, five municipalities asked to analyze various neighborhoods. Only two of these projects were actually executed, the other three were canceled. According to research in 2019 by the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, none of these algorithmic investigations have been able to detect new cases of fraud.
Government agencies that want to use SyRI must follow a detailed procedure. Two agencies should cooperate and ask the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) to conduct an analysis. Before a SyRI project starts, SZW publishes an advisory in the online version of the official gazette. "The municipality has no obligation to inform citizens of a neighborhood that they are being analyzed," said Ronald Huissen, from Platform Bescherming Burgerrechten (Platform for Civil Rights Protection). "And if they are informed, it is by a city bulletin that is not necessarily read by them, and in very vague terms, without the details of what data SyRI uses and how."
The agency that asked for the analysis cannot just penalize citizens who are flagged for an unlikely combination of data: it has to investigate, for every flagged citizen, whether an actual case of fraud took place. Moreover, flagged citizens are first examined at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment for false positives. Data on citizens who are deemed false positives is not handed over to the agency that asked for the analysis.
Fig Leaf for government led by Mark Rutte ... why implementing AI through SyRi when it has been harmful and deemed an illegal invasion of privacy of Dutch citizens. The Internet of Things (IoT) and the almighty establishment in The Hague -- a new style of colonial slave drivers.
Another scientific report of 166 pages which is left in a bottom drawer of PM desk in his isolated tower.
Working towards a digital transition focused on people and values - The Dutch approach | Rathenau Institute - June 2018 |
Dutch Labor leader quits over false benefit fraud scandal | Politico EU - Jan. 14, 2021 |
Dutch Labor Party leader Lodewijk Asscher quit his post Thursday over a scandal in which thousands of parents were falsely accused of child benefit fraud.
The scandal has rocked Dutch politics and the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte ahead of a general election in March.
The center-left Labor Party (PvdA) is not part of Rutte's current coalition but was a member of his previous government, on whose watch the scandal occurred.
Coalition at risk amid fallout from tax authorities wrongly `hunting down' thousands of families | The Guardian |
The Dutch government will decide on Friday whether to step down over an escalating scandal in which tax officials wrongly accused thousands of parents of fraud, plunging many families into debt by ordering them to repay childcare allowances.
Under the scandal, around 10,000 families in the Netherlands were told to repay tens of thousands of euros of subsidies after being wrongly accused of child welfare fraud.
Rutte made his speech in the aftermath of the publication of a report by the Parliamentary Interrogation Committee on Childcare Allowance, which he called "very tough, but fair."
"On all levels throughout the political-administrative-legal system, mistakes have been made that have resulted in great injustice to thousands of parents," he remarked.
The Dutch premier was clear that financial compensation for the affected parents is the "the first thing that needs to be properly arranged."
The promise of a quick and thorough compensation schema has not been achieved by Rutte ...
Several diaries on the Rutte Doctrine of secrecy and lack of transparency ... a shipwreck waiting to happen, and still in power! 😖
The Nine Lives of Dutch PM Mark Rutte