Schippers, AIVD and WhatsApp in running for Big Brother award


Health minister Edith Schippers, the Dutch security service and messaging service WhatsApp have been nominated for the Big Brother award for online intrusion.

Lobby group Bits of Freedom set up the snooper’s award to highlight invasions of privacy on the internet.

Schippers earned her place on the shortlist for her plan to give insurers greater access to people’s medical files in order to clamp down on fraud, Trouw reported.

The AIVD was nominated for wanting to limit the encryption of messages sent via chat programs such as WhatsApp and Telegram in order to combat terrorism, while WhatsApp was named after deciding to share information on its billion users with Facebook, despite earlier promises not to.

Bits of Freedom said the AIVD was stifling ‘reasoned debate’ by presenting privacy and safety as irreconcilable opposites. Privacy expert Geert Munnich, of the Rathenau Institute, agreed. ‘It’s no good opening digital backdoors because they can be used by others as well,’ he told the paper. He conceded the secret service might need a wider mandate but this should be properly monitored, preferably by an independent third party.

Munnich also criticised Schippers’ suggestion to give insurers greater access to electronic medical records. It is unclear if the insurer’s access would be restricted to evidence of fraud, he said. ‘We would have to rely on the insurers’ goodwill, which may not be a good idea. Again, a third party could investigate if there is a suspicion of major fraud.’





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