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The Button Monster: what can I do about it?

By our guest columnist. 

A common complaint regarding privacy is: "nice and all, but what can I do about it? On my own, I won't achieve anything." Here are some tips to take back your freedom of movement. In fact, the good news is that you can do more than you think.


Dare to ask an employee of the relevant Authority why measures are suddenly in place and don't just assume everything. Let this Authority demonstrate that measures have been taken on a legitimate basis. Be critical and respond if you feel arguments are being used improperly.

A common argument is "terrorism" or "the terrorist". All sorts of measures that restrict your freedom have been implemented in recent years. However, TV and the news keep surprisingly quiet. Have you ever heard of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW)? This is an important example. Terrorism is being used as a crutch to pass laws that have nothing at all to do with terrorism. However, the consequences of the EAW are very far-reaching for Dutch citizens. Surf on Google on "EAW" or "European Arrest Warrant" and read everything written about it!

Tell your friends and acquaintances what is going on and point out the dangers. It is also about your children and grandchildren. What do you want to leave behind for them?

Biometric data (e.g. your fingerprints) for your passport or identity card
Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 dated 13 Dec 2004:

If you apply for a passport or identity card, you are required to give up your biometric data. But you do have rights! For example, you can demand an explanation. The surrender of your biometric data for the purpose of a travel document is only intended to establish the authenticity of the document and to check whether the document holder and the data match (art. 4).

Issue a statement signed by you indicating that you are surrendering your biometric data under protest and that you do not consent to having this data entered into a database. Have this document signed by the relevant Authority and also have this document stamped and dated. This is because you are giving private data to an Authority without being protected (legally). The burden of proof should be on Justice and not on you. You are not legally protected if someone else takes your data. Prove that you are not the person marching with your data. An impossible task!

A detail: not all EU countries are participating in this measure; consider Denmark, for example.

Banks - cash money

To prevent cash from disappearing from the scene anytime soon, say no to compulsory debit cards in shops and ignore them. See also the section The Button Monster: Banks and Insurance.