Council of State criticises government reliance on digital communication

The government’s increasing reliance on digital communications for official matters, permit requests and complaints is making officialdom impossible to deal with for some people, the Council of State said on Thursday.

Cost cutting and making it easier for officials to work are primary in the digitalisation drive but consumers are often left with the disadvantages of modern technology and their rights are under threat, the council said.

The government’s highest advisory body says that it is becoming increasingly difficult for some people to find things out and to protest about decisions because of the focus on online forms and documents.




For example, the digitalisation of decision-making threatens to leave decisions up to automated systems, and citizens are being confronted with decisions which no human being has looked at, the report says.

The council referred to the automation of traffic fines which, in 2013, led to campers being identified as lorries and so fined for speeding. Rather than change the system, officials told camper owners told to protest about the fines instead.

Digitisalisation does not mean progress for everyone, the council states in its recommendations, which were not made at the government’s request. ‘One missed email can have major consequences, such as fines for late payment,’ the council said.


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