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Green Left, D66, Party for the Animals and Pirate Party do well when it comes to Privacy

By Esther Gruppen, political research & monitoring officer at Privacy First Foundation

When it comes to privacy, the election manifestos rattle. While the majority of parties pay attention to it, the CDA, SGP, PVV and 50+ lag far behind, writes Esther Gruppen of Privacy First in an analysis of the election manifestos.

Under the banner of counterterrorism and security, we citizens are increasingly being watched, spied on and snooped on. An example of this is the dragnet where internet traffic is massively tapped by security services at the expense of our privacy. Massive collection of our personal data is never safe anyway. This became apparent, for example, when the Tax Authority was recently taken to task by the Personal Data Authority. A security breach may have allowed the data of millions of taxpayers to fall into the wrong hands. With the elections coming up, we thought it would be good to do the same thing that the government does to us as citizens, which is to give them a proper vetting process. For this reason, Privacy First started screening election manifestos with the question: are political parties sufficiently aware of privacy? An analysis of the various election manifestos gives a good picture of this civil right: from promising to shocking.

Privacy First is particularly enthusiastic about the election manifestos of GroenLinks and D66, but the Party for the Animals and the Piratenpartij are also doing well. These parties see the opportunities and benefits of innovation and technological progress, but also recognise the challenges involved, for example in the use of Big Data and the risks of profiling. Green Left contributes by far the most privacy issues. For example, the placement of taps in the Netherlands, which happens significantly more often here than in neighbouring countries. This is unnecessary and must change, GreenLeft said. Intelligence and security services should no longer be allowed to place taps without court intervention. The Party for the Animals agrees and says data should only be requested if there is a concrete suspicion that has been tested by a judge. GroenLinks also stresses that journalists' communications and lawyer-client communications should not be tapped. After all, both are essential for press freedom and a functioning rule of law.

D66 is not far short of Green Left and wants the Netherlands to lead the way with the best digital infrastructure, where an open, free and secure internet is essential. In addition, D66 wants better framework conditions for the use of drones. Drones can nowadays be used by private individuals, the government and businesses for various purposes, but is this all allowed just like that? May film recordings made by a drone in your private environment be made at all without your permission? It is important that the House of Representatives takes a critical look at this.

The Pirate Party adds that we should not be filmed everywhere. It therefore wants us to clamp down on camera surveillance. In addition, this party is in favour of being able to pay and travel anonymously. For instance, a one-off public transport chip card should not be more expensive than a personal public transport chip card and the Piratenpartij is against automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), RFID chips in license plates and road pricing. Interestingly, the Pirate Party is in favour of granting asylum to Edward Snowden.

The SP, Christian Union and Labour Party also make a strong case for privacy. The Christian Union, in particular, puts forward a clear story about the risks of technological progress. It wonders, for instance, whether someone is still innocent until proven guilty, if someone is confronted with more frequent arrests and checks because they fall into a certain risk profile. The SP also insists that no one is a priori suspect. That is why it opposes the Dragnet, which is disastrous for our privacy. However, Privacy First sees that the SP contradicts itself. For the SP is simultaneously in favour of better information exchange on potential terrorists between secret services in the EU and US. Important preconditions for this are missing. Without these preconditions, fundamental rights such as the right to privacy come under pressure.

Privacy comes off poorly with the PVV and the CDA. It is not mentioned in the PVV and only once in the CDA. In the election manifestos of VVD and SGP, these parties do mention it, but they have dramatic proposals on privacy. In fact, they structurally put security above privacy. Also worrying is a proposal by 50+: they would like to see the introduction of a digital passport that would make anonymous internet surfing impossible. The CDA, SGP, VVD, 50+ and PVV should take an example from the parties that do get it right. For instance, the Pirate Party, which incidentally invites all political parties to copy, adopt or otherwise distribute their views. Take this invitation to heart when it comes to privacy?

Read HERE our full analysis on privacy in the 2017 election manifestos (pdf, 33 pp).