Privacy First calls for legislation on profiling citizens
Government flies off the handle
Privacy First Foundation is considering taking legal action against the 10 Dutch municipalities that currently hire research firms to scan privacy data on the internet. It is also currently reviewing the legal status of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to prepare a lawsuit.
The net around the unsuspecting citizen is being stretched ever tighter, physically and electronically. In the unbridled control drive of the fear-ridden state apparatus, all fundamental principles of the democratic rule of law are shamelessly flouted. Has fear ever been a good guide to building and designing a society?
Hiring spy agencies
Citizens are no longer safe anywhere in their private domain as it emerges that the government, which has the explicit task of protecting privacy, is using spying on citizens on the internet, private sites and social media lets accidental and alleged fraudsters be tracked down. Beyond any surveillance and beyond any legal framework. Suspicious search terms include 'holiday' and 'car', so every citizen is a potential suspect. Children of alleged fraudsters are vetted in the hope of getting more information about the parents.
From total screening to real-time motion control
Scanning all number plates on Amsterdam's ring road and storing associated data is another monkey out of Opstelten's top hat. From the motto he praises: everyone is a suspect until proven guilty.
The principle of law is indiscriminately reversed when tracking and monitoring citizens or there is no accountability at all through the hiring of spy agencies. For Privacy First, this is yet another step of a runaway and uncontrollable government that does not trust its own citizens. Citizens who pay the government through taxes and are spied on by an untrustworthy government.
The cases of function creep are legion and many initiatives started from safety and environmental arguments culminate in systems for permanent monitoring of all movements of citizens. Number plate detection for dirty trucks becomes a detection device for fraudulent citizens, security cameras in cities the basis for automatic facial recognition. Even the parking meters in Amsterdam are equipped with a camera. What will be the next feature to be added?
Privacy First stands for good legislation, proper implementation with monitoring of it and smart use of technology. Based on the principle of "own choices in a free environment". Now that the government is increasingly turning to mass spying on citizens to then apply "profiling", it is high time for very tight legislation on this. And a national debate on this.
Profiling by the government
Profiling after all, is always linked to total screening, in order to filter out the so-called "outliers". Our legislation cannot be bindingly tested against the Constitution and in no way guarantee the basic foundation stone of individual freedom: privacy. A government that proceeds to screen all citizens out of distrust (un)consciously encourages self-censorship and a snitch society. The Netherlands knows all too well that this is not a pleasant society, given the finger pointing at the Middle East and China.
The private domain behind the front door is also currently under pressure from the argument of 'convenient' electronic energy meters that are always on, or yet another case of child abuse or welfare fraud. Reason enough to look behind the front door. With profiling so with everyone; of course, there can always be something to find.
Government measures to support profiling
In recent years, the government has been taking more and more measures to profiling (un)intended better possible:
- Mandatory saliva testing of motorists, now for drugs, then random and generally DNA as well.
- The newly introduced phenomenon of the "lone wolf" turns every citizen into a potential and thus spyable suspect.
- Restricting freedom on the internet from (currently illegal) downloading, Wikileaks and then sites spreading undesirable appeals or opinions.
- Legislation restricting the right to facial protection, then deployed to enable 3D digital facial recognition.
- Placing sensors and directional microphones in public spaces (Birmingham) to signal "shots", then tracking all sound, down to individual level.
- Storing DNA of all citizens in a database, in order to then track down genetic suspects long before they can be "at fault". Also in relation to family members and friends.
- The continuous pursuit of massive databases, completely losing sight of the human scale and identity theft, stolen data files and other forms of abuse are commonplace.
- The huge drive to monitor the transport movements of every citizen, first with spy boxes, then with route controls, intelligent cameras on the road and now again via ANWB-sponsored black boxes, forced through leasing companies. The latest addition comes from the EUR8m grant-sponsored project of 3D multi-functional detection poles, which involves in-car monitoring.
- Deployment of microbiological chips for medicine, coupled with a mass centralised EHR, growing into mandatory chipping for epidemics and travel? With biometric recognition, of course.
All beautifully applauded by the "law and order" mantra, in which serious alternatives in prevention, technology where free choice remains possible, principled choices for the human touch are hounded away as being privacy fetishism.
So time for a balanced social discussion in which choices are made from the principles of our rule of law and legislation follows. Not the other way round, as happens now. And with reinforcement of the judiciary and independent bodies for correction with review of the Constitution, instead of the further refinement of our judiciary which again removes the human dimension.
Call for lawyers
Privacy First calls on lawyers in the Netherlands who want to join Privacy First in a pro bono case against profiling through automatic number plate recognition and internet screening by hiring commercial spy agencies. Privacy First emphatically chooses the legal route of campaigning and now has a whole network of lawyers to support pro bono lawyers in this.
Administrative action Profiling
In addition to a lawsuit, there are many questions about what to do against profiling and the excesses mentioned hereby can do. In particular, we were asked about how to conduct an administrative process. Many people simply refuse to let Big Brother simply come over them and do not fall for the fallacy spread by government propaganda: "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear". Privacy First is therefore working on a Citizen's Manual Administrative Objection Procedure Profiling (on the objections of the concerned citizen to the unwanted tracking, monitoring and storage of free movement and expression), or Action BBBP.
Everyone can use this as they see fit. This, like previous actions (such as our MunicipalityGuaranteeBrief) separate from Privacy First. Hopefully, this too will be another big action involving thousands of people.