Major privacy breach: students could access hospital medical records

Students working for extra cash at Amsterdam's OLVG hospital group have for years been given complete access to the medical records system, allowing them to read personal information about friends, family and famous people, the Volkskrant said on Friday. The leak was made public by a philosophy student who made telephone appointments for the hospital. Fellow students recommended digging up 'juicy details' in the files while doing boring jobs, she told the paper. A mistake in the software meant that all students were able to access confidential files because they were supposed to be able to work anywhere within the hospital. Experts told the Volkskrant that the loophole again highlights how difficult it is to ensure secrecy when using electronic patient records. The Dutch privacy watchdog ACP warned about the problem in 2013 and last year it emerged that dozens of people accessed the medical files of a television reality show star who tried to commit suicide. Concerns about privacy have been one of the major brakes on developing a nationwide digital medical record system in the Netherlands. In 2011 the upper house of parliament pulled the plug on a €300m project to introduce such a system due to privacy concerns. The government is now planning to introduce a system allowing patients to ‘manage’ their own medical records on their computer or mobile phone and decide who should have access to what information. Health minister Bruno Bruins has allocated €3m to develop what he calls a ‘personal healthcare environment’ created by an alliance of patients, health insurers, healthcare providers and the national healthcare IT institute.  More >

MPs want transparency on Facebook ads

Facebook app on mobile phone Dutch MPs have almost unanimously backed a motion calling on the government to pressure Facebook to come clean about political advertising ahead of the provincial elections in March. Only the right-wing VVD and anti-Islam PVV opposed the motion which urged ministers to call for more transparency in political advertising. This transparency is necessary, MPs say, because 'social media, including Facebook, offer a platform to political fake adverts' at both election time and on other occasions. Facebook said at the end of January that it would bring new political advertising rules and tools introduced in the US and UK last year into countries which are holding significant elections this year. These measures will not, however, come into effect in the Netherlands before the end of March, after the provincial elections. MPs say Facebook should come clean about the origins of political advertising three weeks ahead of the provincial vote on March 20. Facebook has said its new rules will be in effect in Europe ahead of the EU parliamentary elections which take place between May 23 and May 26.  More >

Police lure youngsters into cybercrime

Dutch police say they have lured almost 9,500 youngsters into thinking they were getting involved in cybercrime as part of an awareness campaign over the past few days. The youngsters were encouraged by a vlogger, game platform IGN and website to either hack an Instagram account, steal game money or buy a DDoS attack on their school to beat exam stress. But when they clicked on the relevant link, they were confronted with the police campaign, pointing out they were one click away from committing a crime. In total, the lures were seen 500,000 times and 9,456 youngsters clicked on the relevant link. The aim of the campaign is not only to make youngsters aware of the risks but to make the issue a topic of conversation. One third of the youngsters who followed the link said they were unaware that what they were considering doing was a criminal offence.  More >

Too few teachers for information sciences

A shortage of teachers is increasing pressure on schools to scrap information sciences in the last two years of secondary education, the Financieele Dagblad reports. The number of schools offering information sciences as an exam subject has gone down from 300 to 260 schools, figures from government education agency DUO quoted by the paper show. ‘Social sciences is about more than programming alone,’ Amsterdam university lecturer Derk Pik told the FD. ‘It’s about social media, information processing, privacy and encryption. Every secondary school student needs to know the basics.’ Schools have had problems attracting information science teachers for a long time, and the problem has now been labelled ‘permanent’, with 23 full time jobs unfilled, a number that will go up to 96 in the next decade, according to recent research. If more schools wanted to include information sciences the number would be even higher. Teacher training colleges are finding it impossible to hold on to graduates because they cannot compete with business. ‘Every company involved with information sciences wants them. We have three master students a year who are going into teaching and it’s not much better at other universities,’ the paper quotes Jan van der Meij of the University of Twente as saying. Although initiatives are being developed to attract people from business into education, the problem is not going to go away, said professor of information sciences didactics Erik Barendsen of the Open University. ‘I’m seeing creative solutions where schools offer distance learning to their students but the coming years will be difficult. We can’t simply conjure up teachers out of thin air,’ he told the FD.  More >

ight in 10 have no clue about PSD2 rules

Eight in 10 people in the Netherlands have no clue about what new European payment regulations mean for them, according to a survey by ING. The Payment Service Directive 2 (PSD2) breaks banks' monopoly on their customers data and allows third parties to offer banking services directly to them - if they have given permission for their information to be shared. Brussels hopes the new measures will lead to the development of more innovative payment systems which would operate alongside established methods such as iDeal and Paypal. In total, 82% of the 1,500 people questioned on behalf of ING said they know nothing about the new rules. When the possibilities are explained to them, 46% said they might take advantage of the new systems, including two-thirds of the under 34s. Nevertheless, just over half of those questioned said they had a negative or very negative feeling about PSD2, 31% are neutral and 12% positive. 'Because people don't know what PSD2 is, they are worried about their privacy and the safety of their banking data. If they understand what the new rules are about, they do appreciate the advantages,' ING's digital banking chief Jeroen Losekoot said. Privacy Privacy experts are concerned that PSD2 will allow tech giants such as Google and Amazon to become even more dominant, by offering financial services directly to their customers. Google, for example, already has a banking licence in Lithuania, which will allow it to enter the European market. The new European rules have been passed by both houses of parliament in the Netherlands but no date for their implementation has yet been set.  More >

Dutch invest €30m in radio telescope

The Netherlands is investing €30m in the world’s biggest radio telescope, education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven announced in a letter to parliament on Monday. The project is part of a number of scientific innovations worth a total of €108m to be realised in the next four years. The telescope, or Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be financed by 11 countries and built in South Africa and Western Australia beginning in 2021. It is made up of of hundreds of satellite dishes and thousands of antennas which will produce images of the early formation of stars. ‘This could potentially lead to breakthrough scientific discoveries,’ the minster said. The prestigious Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy in Drenthe ASTRON will lead the consortium that will develop SKA's antenna stations in Western Australia and also play a major role in two other consortia that will process the data, the institute says on its website. Van Engelshoven said Dutch participation in the project will not only lead to a ‘strengthening of the Netherlands’ leading position in radio astronomy’ but will also boost the economy. ‘The Netherlands has a good chance of hosting the European data processing centre for SKA,’ she said. Michiel van Haarlem, head of the SKA Office Netherlands at ASTRON, said the Netherlands will have a proportional share in contracts for the construction of the SKA and that Dutch companies and institutions are well positioned to win contracts in many areas, for example for the delivery of elements of the telescope and smart software. The project agreement will be signed on March 12 in Rome.  More >

Dutch 'like' junk news a lot: report

Almost 5.3 million people have shared, liked or reacted to Dutch junk news on Facebook at one time or another, a report by Leiden university researchers has found. In total the team analysed more than 117,000 Facebook messages placed online between January 2013 and December 2017. Junk news is mostly produced by obscure media, such as Trendnieuws and Viraal Vandaag and can be identified as such by its sensationalist click bait titles. Facebook page administrators use the articles in the hope of tempting users to go to websites which contain the adverts they make their money from. The researchers compared 63 junk news pages on Facebook to 20 more traditional outlets, such as, leading broadcasters, magazines, newspapers and shock blogs. The number of pulp news items, which in 2013 and 2014 was practically nil, leapt up in 2017 when 6,000 pulp news items a month were added to the pages. The number of news items released on traditional outlets remained about the same with around 970 items a month. Junk news items, the researchers found, get an average of 429 likes compared to 363 for traditional media news. 'Junk news pages have got more successful over time in attracting user engagement,' the report said. 'From the beginning of 2016, junk news has consistently attracted more user interactions per post than mainstream news.' The report also shows that Dutch junk news Facebook pages frequently promote fake, stories. For example, the researchers found a completely bogus story about animal abuse by asylum seekers had been published on 13 different websites and was shared 55,292 times over a two month period.   More >