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Landmark Ruling by Dutch Court Stops Government Attempts to Spy on the Poor – UN Expert

– UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR)

  • News
  • Posted by Good ID team (Good ID)
  • 21 February 2020

The UN Human Rights team announced a milestone ruling by the Dutch court in favor of minority rights that questioned the need for – and use of – potentially discriminatory digital identification tool SyRI

This ruling followed a recommendation by UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, that suggested the SyRI system – designed to detect benefits fraud – violated rights of minorities and low-income residents in the Netherlands. Alston noted:

"The litigation and its outcome are likely to inspire activists in other countries to file similar legal challenges to address the risks of emerging digital welfare systems."

Alston and the court hope their concern about government-implemented digital systems like SyRI will be heard far and wide. They note such systems have distinct potential to invade privacy or have the ability to be abused for discriminatory purposes, as Alston says:

I predict that this judgment will be a wake-up call for politicians and others who were asleep before, not just in the Netherlands, but in many other countries where Governments are experimenting with digitizing government

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