Report: How police surveillance tech reinforces abuses of power

The UK organisation No Tech for Tyrants (NT4T) has published an extensive report on the use of surveillance technologies by the police in the UK, US, Mexico, Brazil, Denmark and India, in collaboration with researchers and activists from these countries. The report, titled “Surveillance Tech Perpetuates Police Abuse of Power” examines the relation between policing and technology through in-depth case studies.

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The devastating consequences of risk based profiling by the Dutch police

Diana Sardjoe writes for Fair Trials about how her sons were profiled by the Amsterdam police on the basis of risk models (a form of predictive policing) called ‘Top600’ (for adults) and ‘Top400’ for people aged 12 to 23). Because of this profiling her sons were “continually monitored and harassed by police.”

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My sons were profiled by a racist predictive policing system — the AI Act must prohibit these systems

When I found out my sons were placed on lists called the ‘Top 600’ and the ‘Top 400’ by the local Amsterdam council, I thought I was finally getting help. The council says the purpose of these lists, created by predictive and profiling systems, is to identify and give young people who have been in contact with the police “extra attention from the council and organisations such as the police, local public health service and youth protection,” to prevent them from coming into contact with police again. This could not have been further from the truth.

By Diana Sardjoe for Medium on September 28, 2022

Dutch student files complaint with the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights about the use of racist software by her university

During the pandemic, Dutch student Robin Pocornie had to do her exams with a light pointing straight at her face. Her fellow students who were White didn’t have to do that. Her university’s surveillance software discriminated her, and that is why she has filed a complaint (read the full complaint in Dutch) with the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights.

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Student meldt discriminatie met antispieksoftware bij College Rechten van de Mens

Een student van de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) dient een klacht in bij het College voor de Rechten van de Mens (pdf). Bij het gebruik van de antispieksoftware voor tentamens werd ze alleen herkend als ze met een lamp in haar gezicht scheen. De VU had volgens haar vooraf moeten controleren of studenten met een zwarte huidskleur even goed herkend zouden worden als witte studenten.

From NU.nl on July 15, 2022

Student stapt naar College voor de Rechten van de Mens vanwege gebruik racistische software door de VU

Student Robin Pocornie moest tijdens de coronapandemie tentamens maken met een lamp direct op haar gezicht. Haar witte medestudenten hoefden dat niet. De surveillance-software van de VU heeft haar gediscrimineerd, daarom dient ze vandaag een klacht in bij het College voor de Rechten van de Mens.

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Pilot met slimme technologie tegen discriminerende spreekkoren

Met als doel discriminerende spreekkoren in stadions te bestrijden, is een pilot van start gegaan met slimme technologie. Tot nu toe schoten bijvoorbeeld beschikbare videobeelden in combinatie met geluidsopnames te vaak tekort als bewijsmateriaal. In het kader van ‘Ons voetbal is van iedereen’, een gezamenlijk plan van de Rijksoverheid en het voetbal, is het bedrijfsleven uitgedaagd om in samenwerking met Betaald Voetbal Organisaties (BVO) met concrete oplossingen te komen. Met de pilot gaat deze challenge een nieuwe fase in.

From KNVB.nl on June 1, 2022

Diverse algoritmes Rijk voldoen niet aan basisvereisten

Een verantwoorde inzet van algoritmes door uitvoeringsorganisaties van de rijksoverheid is mogelijk, maar in de praktijk niet altijd het geval. De Algemene Rekenkamer heeft bij 3 algoritmes vastgesteld dat deze voldoen aan alle basisvereisten. Bij 6 andere bestaan uiteenlopende risico’s: gebrekkige controle op prestaties of effecten, vooringenomenheid, datalek of ongeautoriseerde toegang.

From Algemene Rekenkamer on May 18, 2022

The Dutch government wants to continue to spy on activists’ social media

Investigative journalism of the NRC brought to light that the Dutch NCTV (the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security) uses fake social media accounts to track Dutch activists. The agency also targets activists working in the social justice or anti-discrimination space and tracks their work, sentiments and movements through their social media accounts. This is a clear example of how digital communication allows governments to intensify their surveillance and criminalisation of political opinions outside the mainstream.

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Racism and technology in the Dutch municipal elections

Last week in the Netherlands all focus was on the municipal elections. Last Wednesday, the city councils were chosen that will govern for the next four years. The elections this year were mainly characterised by a historical low turnout and the traditional overall wins for local parties. However, the focus of the Racism and Technology Center is, of course, on whether the new municipal councils and governments will put issues on the intersection of social justice and technology on the agenda.

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Bits of Freedom speaks to the Dutch Senate on discriminatory algorithms

In an official parliamentary investigative committee, the Dutch Senate is investigating how new regulation or law-making processes can help combat discrimination in the Netherlands. The focus of the investigative committee is on four broad domains: labour market, education, social security and policing. As a part of these wide investigative efforts the senate is hearing from a range of experts and civil society organisations. Most notably, one contribution stands out from the perspective of racist technology: Nadia Benaissa from Bits of Freedom highlighted the dangers of predictive policing and other uses of automated systems in law enforcement.

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De discriminatie die in data schuilt

De Eerste Kamer doet onderzoek naar de effectiviteit van wetgeving tegen discriminatie. Wij mochten afgelopen vrijdag de parlementsleden vertellen over discriminatie en algoritmen. Hieronder volgt de kern van ons verhaal.

By Nadia Benaissa for Bits of Freedom on February 8, 2022

Boete Belastingdienst voor discriminerende en onrechtmatige werkwijze

De Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP) legt de Belastingdienst een boete op van 2,75 miljoen euro. Dit doet de AP omdat de Belastingdienst jarenlang de (dubbele) nationaliteit van aanvragers van kinderopvangtoeslag op onrechtmatige, discriminerende en daarmee onbehoorlijke wijze heeft verwerkt. Dit zijn ernstige overtredingen van de privacywet, de Algemene verordening gegevensbescherming (AVG).

From Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens on December 7, 2021

Dutch Scientific Council knows: AI is neither neutral nor always rational

AI should be seen as a new system technology, according to The Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy, meaning that its impact is large, affects the whole of society, and is hard to predict. In their new Mission AI report, the Council lists five challenges for successfully embedding system technologies in society, leading to ten recommendations for governments.

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Amnesty’s grim warning against another ‘Toeslagenaffaire’

In its report of the 25 of October, Amnesty slams the Dutch government’s use of discriminatory algorithms in the child benefits schandal (toeslagenaffaire) and warns that the likelihood of such a scandal occurring again is very high. The report is aptly titled ‘Xenophobic machines – Discrimination through unregulated use of algorithms in the Dutch childcare benefits scandal’ and it conducts a human rights analysis of a specific sub-element of the scandal: the use of algorithms and risk models. The report is based on the report of the Dutch data protection authority and several other government reports.

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Xenophobic machines: Discrimination through unregulated use of algorithms in the Dutch childcare benefits scandal

Social security enforcement agencies worldwide are increasingly automating their processes in the hope of detecting fraud. The Netherlands is at the forefront of this development. The Dutch tax authorities adopted an algorithmic decision-making system to create risk profiles of individuals applying for childcare benefits in order to detect inaccurate and potentially fraudulent applications at an early stage. Nationality was one of the risk factors used by the tax authorities to assess the risk of inaccuracy and/or fraud in the applications submitted. This report illustrates how the use of individuals’ nationality resulted in discrimination as well as racial profiling.

From Amnesty International on October 25, 2021

Government: Stop using discriminatory algorithms

In her Volkskrant opinion piece Nani Jansen Reventlow makes a forceful argument for the government to stop using algorithms that lead to discrimination and exclusion. Reventlow, director of the Digital Freedom Fund, employs a myriad of examples to show how disregarding the social nature of technological systems can lead to reproducing existing social injustices such as racism or discrimination. The automatic fraud detection system SyRI that was ruled in violation of fundamental rights (and its dangerous successor Super SyRI) is discussed, as well as the racist proctoring software we wrote about earlier.

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Covid-19 data: making racialised inequality in the Netherlands invisible

The CBS, the Dutch national statistics authority, issued a report in March showing that someone’s social economic status is a clear risk factor for dying of Covid-19. In an insightful piece, researchers Linnet Taylor and Tineke Broer criticise this report and show that the way in which the CBS collects and aggragates data on Covid-19 cases and deaths obfuscates the full extent of racialised or ethnic inequality in the impact of the pandemic.

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Racist Technology in Action: Proctoring software disadvantaging students of colour in the Netherlands

In an opinion piece in Parool, The Racism and Technology Center wrote about how Dutch universities use proctoring software that uses facial recognition technology that systematically disadvantages students of colour (see the English translation of the opinion piece). Earlier the center has written on the racial bias of these systems, leading to black students being excluded from exams or being labeled as frauds because the software did not properly recognise their faces as a face. Despite the clear proof that Procorio disadvantages students of colour, the University of Amsterdam has still used Proctorio extensively in this June’s exam weeks.

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Now you see it, now you don’t: how the Dutch Covid-19 data gap makes ethnic and racialised inequality invisible

All over the world, in the countries hardest hit by Covid-19, there is clear evidence that marginalised groups are suffering the worst impacts of the disease. This plays out differently in different countries: for instance in the US, there are substantial differences in mortality rates by race and ethnicity. Israelis have a substantially lower death rate from Covid-19 than Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza. In Brazil, being of mixed ancestry is the second most important risk factor, after age, for dying of Covid-19. These racial and ethnic (and related) differences appear also to be present in the Netherlands, but have been effectively rendered politically invisible by the national public health authority’s refusal to report on it.

By Linnet Taylor and Tineke Broer for Global Data Justice on June 17, 2021

Rotterdam’s use of algorithms could lead to ethnic profiling

The Rekenkamer Rotterdam (a Court of Audit) looked at how the city of Rotterdam is using predictive algorithms and whether that use could lead to ethical problems. In their report, they describe how the city lacks a proper overview of the algorithms that it is using, how there is no coordination and thus no one takes responsibility when things go wrong, and how sensitive data (like nationality) were not used by one particular fraud detection algorithm, but that so-called proxy variables for ethnicity – like low literacy, which might correlate with ethnicity – were still part of the calculations. According to the Rekenkamer this could lead to unfair treatment, or as we would call it: ethnic profiling.

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Gebruik algoritmes Rotterdam kan leiden tot vooringenomen uitkomsten

De gemeente Rotterdam maakt ter ondersteuning van haar besluitvorming gebruik van algoritmes. Hoewel er binnen de gemeente aandacht bestaat voor het ethisch gebruik van algoritmes, is het besef van de noodzaak hiervan nog niet heel wijdverbreid. Dit kan leiden tot weinig transparantie van algoritmes en vooringenomen uitkomsten, zoals bij een algoritme gericht op de bestrijding van uitkeringsfraude. Dit en meer concludeert de Rekenkamer Rotterdam in het rapport ‘Gekleurde technologie’.

From Rekenkamer Rotterdam on April 14, 2021

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