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Monthly update on human rights & tech: October 2023

A secret terrorism watch list, government pressured to reject client-side scanning, and the DPA looks into generative AI: a quick read through the most interesting developments at the intersection of human rights and technology from the Netherlands.

Will the Netherlands agree to client-side scanning?

Parliament has issued clear instructions to cabinet not to support any European legislation that would restrict the use of encryption or that would allow client-side device scanning. The responsible minister, who has since been presented as the conservative-liberals' (VVD) new party leader, has, however, publicly announced her support for client-side device scanning.

Following revelations that the European Commission has been working closely together with companies that stand to gain financially if the European bill is passed, Bits of Freedom sent the minister an urgent letter. In it, we request the minister to refrain from supporting the proposalMore details in our press release until she can state for certain which interests were leading in the proposal's design. We also emphasize that our appeal is in line with the advice of the government's principal advisory body on the subject, the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children. The Rapporteur has previously stated that a more thorough conversation is necessary before the bill is passed.

Parliament in the mean time has moved up a round-table addressing questions it has about the technical feasibility of the plans presented by the European Commission. We hope the recent revelations in the media and parliament's fact-finding mission will deter the minister from accepting client-side device scanning.

Are young users aware of when they're talking to a bot instead of a human?

Muslim Rights Watch Netherlands takes State to court

Muslim Rights Watch Netherlands is suing the Dutch state because it took no action to release a man who has been detained for more than six weeks in Spain on suspicion of terrorism.

It's estimated that dozens, maybe hundreds, of people with a migration background have been unjustly placed on a terror watch list. The Minister of Justice and Security confirmed this earlier this year, but stated that it is people's own responsibility to get themselves removed from the list. How you're supposed to defend yourself against a secret and unjust registration is beyond us. To be continued!

Dutch DPA announces investigation into generative AI

The Dutch Data Protection Authority is concerned about how personal data is processed by organisations that deploy generative AI. In particular, the DPA is worried about companies offering these applications to kids. The DPA has asked at least one tech company (to be left unnamed) about the way in which they've integrated a chatbot into their app, whether proper thought has been given to a retention period for the data collected, and if kids are aware of when they're talking to a bot instead of a human. We're curious to see if the DPA finds follow-up steps are necessary.

And finally...

After an episode of consumer rights program Radar aired, featuring our take on smart doorbells, parliamentary questions were asked about the protection of privacy and the Dutch police's role in stimulating people to break the law. The Dutch translation of the wonderful Kashmir Hill's book on facial recognition was published, and although criticism of the cabinet's plan for more powers for the secret services increases, we wonder if it will be enough to convince parliament the bill needs to be radically changed.

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