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Dutch government fails to regulate lobbying

Over the past seven years, the Dutch government has largely failed to improve the transparency of decision-making, according to a report by Transparency International. One of their recommendations is to introduce a two-year cooling-off period to prevent former politicians becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving office. Also, legislative proposals should include detailed information about parties that have provided input.

The report acknowledges that lobbying is a key part of the legislative process, but also asks: «What if certain interests gain undue influence? Are we able to hold politicians and public officials accountable for their relationships with private interests?»

In fact, a review of academic research found that political decision-making in the Netherlands responds mainly to the interests of rich voters and large corporations.

Netherlands fails to implement open data directive

The EC has referred Belgium, Bulgaria, Latvia and the Netherlands to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to implement the open data directive. The deadline expired on 17 July 2021.

Data protection

Eindhoven criticised by data protection authority

The Eindhoven municipality has been accused of not reporting data leaks in time, and of failing to properly investigate the privacy implications of several projects. These projects include a tool showing how crowded parts of the city are, and an algorithm linking unemployed people to job openings.

Ordered to do so by the Data Protection Authority (AP), the city has presented a plan to address these issues. However, the AP says the plan doesn’t meet quality standards. «All in all, it appears that the municipality doesn’t sufficiently appreciate the seriousness and the urgency of the concerns.» The municipality will be placed under stricter control.

No data protection clause in festival permits

Amsterdam says it is not legally possible to make permits subject to data protection criteria. Council member Suleyman Aslami of D66 has asked the municipality to consider such a measure, after RTL Nieuws reported that the organiser of a techno festival had leaked personal data and passwords of 130,000 people.

Leiden University finally removes surveillance cameras

In 2020, Leiden University placed AI-powered surveillance cameras in university buildings. After protests by students and staff, the cameras were temporarily shut off. This year, the university board tried to quietly turn them on again. Faced with new protests, it has now announced it will remove and ‘dismantle’ them.


Tracking stolen bicycles

To find out what happens with stolen bicycles, researchers of MIT and TU Delft placed a hundred second-hand bicycles at selected locations in Amsterdam, with a gps tracker attached under the saddle or in the rear reflector. Within six months, 70 were ‘classified as stolen’.

Interestingly, all but two of the stolen bicycles remained within or near Amsterdam, suggesting that this type of bicycles are stolen mainly to be sold at the local market. A small number (3 to 6) appear to have been sold at second-hand bicycle stores. The researchers further divided the city surface in grids and found that relatively many bicycles passed through certain grids. They interpret this as an indication that organised crime may be involved, but this conclusion appears rather speculative.

The authors do not explicitly discuss the fact that their study involved tracking people who are unaware of this. They do indicate that data will not be made publicly available because it might ‘pinpoint specific locations in Amsterdam’. They also indicate that legal and ethical issues were ‘addressed systematically’, although, «with evolving legislative and ethical frameworks, the delineation of what is desirable within research will remain an important question.»