Machine translations by Deepl, 9 January 2016: 'Privacy in 2016: from legislation to awareness'

Privacy, and the lack of it, was a topic that was in the news almost every day last year, and judging by the poll results, Security.NL readers expect privacy to frequently dominate current affairs again in 2016.

Reason for Security.NL to ask three organisations committed to privacy, both outside and on the internet, which issues will dominate the news this year. In addition, Bits of Freedom, Privacy Barometer and Privacy First Foundation will let you know what they will focus on and what you absolutely must do this year when it comes to privacy.


All three organisations see a particularly important role for legislators when it comes to privacy. "Next year, there will already be some pre-sorting from the political side for the elections in March 2017. The bill on intrusion powers for the police has just been sent to the House of Representatives, but it remains to be seen whether the cabinet will dare to go ahead with other sensitive bills. For instance, expanding powers for the AIVD and MIVD is highly controversial and that bill is not mentioned on the list for the coming months either," says Privacy Barometer's Reinout Barth.

Daphne van der Kroft of Bits of Freedom says that proposals to enable mass surveillance by secret services will appear in several European countries in the coming months. "In the Netherlands, this is happening in the renewal of the Intelligence and Security Services Act. It will be exciting whether innocent citizens will also bear the brunt of this," she reveals. Privacy First's Vincent Böhre looks at the role of privacy in local governments, among other things. "Municipalities in particular will have to think again after the first dust clouds of the decentralisations have settled how to handle personal data sustainably."

Duty to report data breaches

All three organisations also expect the necessary from the European privacy legislation and the Data Breach Notification Obligation that has been in force since 1 January. "Companies and governments will have to step up their efforts to comply with the new rules now that they are final. The Data Breach Notification Obligation Act was a nice foretaste of what is to come, for many organisations it turned out to be a big issue after all," Böhre notes. In the Netherlands, the Personal Data Authority can hand out fines of 820,000 euros for data breaches. Something that will definitely have an impact, says Van der Kroft. "That's going to mean that companies will now be much more inclined to comply with the law more cleanly."

Bits of Freedom and Privacy First also mention the new privacy deal to be negotiated between the United States and Europe, since the Safe Harbour agreement was declared invalid last year. "So far, those are very difficult negotiations. We are curious to see what comes out of that!", Van der Kroft let them know.

According to Barth, there are additionally two areas of focus that are somewhat under the radar. These are developments on the new eID system as the successor to DigiD. "Will we soon still be able to access the internet anonymously or will we have to identify ourselves with the eID at every webshop or website?", he wonders. Another issue is student data collected by publishers. "Sander Dekker [State Secretary for Education - ed.] is being light-hearted about it, but the fact that publishers can track the entire study behaviour including results by BSN number is a major privacy violation, because are these data necessary for the publisher? Dekker's vision may yet generate quite a debate in Parliament or among parents," Barth expects.


That privacy plays a role in more and more places is evident from the various issues that privacy organisations will be addressing this year. Bits of Freedom is focusing on several bills. "The hacking proposal should be off the table. If the police want to be able to hack, they have an interest in vulnerabilities in systems. So this will only make the internetter more unsafe in the end. We want to prevent that," says Van der Kroft. The privacy advocate also wants to stop the new proposal for the Compulsory Storage Act and for the untargeted cable tapping by the secret services to be removed from the new proposal for the Intelligence and Security Services Act.

At Privacy First, other topics are on the agenda. The foundation will focus on anonymity in public spaces, such as camera surveillance, ANPR (automatic license plate recognition) and license plate parking, Big Data and profiling, medical privacy and 'smart' energy meters. Furthermore, Privacy First expects to continue several lawsuits, including 'Citizens v Plasterk', and to start new ones, possibly against Facebook and ANPR.

Privacy tips

When it comes to privacy protection, the ball is not only in the court of privacy organisations. There is plenty that citizens and internet users can do. Here, Van der Kroft points to Bits of Freedom's toolbox, which contains several privacy tools. Böhre of Privacy First combines awareness and technology. "Treat privacy like your car or dentist and periodically take the time to check whether your settings, programmes etc. are still in order and doing what you want," he advises. He also recommends blocking ads and tracking cookies and supporting privacy organisations.

Privacy Barometer's main focus is on awareness. "The most important tip we would like to give is: try to make yourself and those around you aware of all the personal data you share and with whom. We give some companies unprecedented power by swimming in their trap and entrusting them with our deepest secrets. Do you want to make Facebook and Whatsapp so powerful that it becomes increasingly difficult to live your life without them?", Barth asks the question. "Don't let big internet companies take control of us. Make people aware about personal data, find alternatives and promote the best of them in your own environment."

Source:, 9 January 2016.