Man, three women arrested in nude photo blackmail scam

One man and three women have been arrested for blackmailing at least 10 young women by threatening to place nude photographs of them online, Zeeland police said on Friday. The victims, aged between 18 and 25, come from all over the country and there may be more, the broadcaster said. The investigation began after a young woman from Vlissingen went to the police, saying she was being blackmailed into handing over cash to stop nude photos being placed on the internet. That led police to identify a 23-year-old man in The Hague. He may also face rape charges after attacking one of his victims when she brought him the money. His telephone and laptop led to three other women aged 18 to 26 who may be involved in the blackmailing. Their role in the case is still being investigated. Police spokesman Aris van Herwijnen said the suspect had made contact with the victims via a fake profile on a dating site. Once he had a nude photo he would make contact with the woman via another social media channel, using another fake profile, and start the blackmail process.  More >

Digitisation makes NL vulnerable: NCTV

The Netherlands is particularly vulnerable to IT failures and attacks because almost all vital processes and systems have been completely digitised with no analogue back-ups, the Dutch counter terrorism unit NCTV said on Wednesday. ‘The Netherlands is dependent on a limited number of providers and countries. This makes us vulnerable to changed intentions,’ the report said. ‘For example, a large part of the hard and software is designed and produced in China and the US.’ In addition, little expertise is needed to launch a cyber attack which could, for example, knock out gas, electricity and water supplies. The best way to reduce the risks is to improve security systems. And while companies and government are taking action, they sometimes think the cost of the improvements are not worth it ‘until things go wrong,’ the NCTV said. The biggest threats come from China, Russia and Iran, the NCTV said, in a restatement of earlier reports. China presents the greatest threat in terms of economic espionage while Russia considers the Netherlands ‘interesting’ because of MH17, the report said.  More >

Facebook in court over fake bitcoin ads

Media magnate John de Mol and Facebook have been given two weeks to reach agreement on how to deal with fake adverts for bitcoin featuring De Mol, or face a court ruling. De Mol was in court on Wednesday asking for an injunction against Facebook for failing to remove the adverts, despite repeated requests. The adverts, which lead to fraudulent websites, show De Mol and include fake quotes about his earnings from the crypto currency. The media entrepreneur wants the court to order Facebook to remove the ads within five days or face sanctions. However, Facebook's lawyer Jens van den Brink told the court that De Mol's demand is out of proportion and 'technically impossible'. In addition, it is impossible to filter on the basis of the name John de Mol because many other people have that name, the lawyer said. The court judge said on Wednesday that he would give the two sides two weeks to come up with a reasonable solution. If no agreement is reached, the judge said, he would rule on the case.  More >

Dutch public broadcasting faces overhaul

The Dutch public broadcasting system is to be overhauled to reduce the amount of advertising and boost regional programming, broadcaster NOS said, quoting cabinet sources. The three state channels NPO 1,2 and 3, will be advertising-free until 8pm and all advertising will be removed from the online services, NOS said. The biggest impact will be on NPO3 which currently focuses on more youth orientated programming. Instead its remit will be largely to carry regional programming from the 12 provincial broadcasters. Scrapping adverts during daytime and early evening viewing will cost some €60m, of which €40m will be compensated for by the treasury. Savings and programming fees will make up the rest of the shortfall, NOS said. Media minister Arie Slob is currently working on a briefing for parliament about the proposals, but no date has yet been set for the changes to be formally presented. There are currently eight main Dutch public broadcasting companies operating under the NPO banner: AVROTROS, BNNVARA, EO, KRO-NCRV, MAX, Powned, VPRO and WNL, plus the news arm NOS and a number of specialist companies.  More >

Blendle ditches pay-per-article service

Dutch digital news aggregator Blendle is to stop selling individual news articles for 'quarters' and will focus instead on its premium subscription service. Blendle launched in 2014 as an online news platform that collected articles from a variety of newspapers and magazines and sold them on a pay-per-article basis. In 2017 the company launched its premium service which provides readers with pre-selected article suggestions and magazine access for €10 a month. 'Nine in 10 start-ups are dead within a year, but we are still around five years on,' Klopping is quoted as saying in the AD. 'I lead a team of 50, we have 60,000 subscribers and 100,000 people who pay per article. But I have to be honest. We are still not making a profit.' Blendle has attracted considerable outside investment since it was founded. Last year investors, BookSpot, a unit of Novamedia and the Danish entrepreneur Morten Strunge invested a combined €4m in the company. The New York Times and Germany’s Axel Springer (Bild, Die Welt) invested €3m in 2015 while in 2017, Japan’s Nikkei, which owns the Financial Times, and the Amsterdam investment club Inkef put an undisclosed sum into the company.  More >

Car journey in The Hague take longer

The Hague has the worst traffic congestion in the Netherlands, the annual TomTom Traffic Index shows. Dutch satnav maker TomTom, which monitors traffic flow in cities around the world, found that an average trip by car in The Hague now takes 28% more time because of slow moving traffic and congestion. That is a rise of one percentage point on a year ago. The Hague is followed by Haarlem, also on 28%, Leiden with 27% and Amsterdam and Arnhem both on 24%. The Amsterdam congestion rate has actually dropped one percentage point on a year ago, whereas in Arnhem it has risen by two points. The list is headed by Mumbai, followed by Bogota and Lima.  More >

Government must come clean on algorithms

The Dutch government must be more transparent about the way algorithms are being used to take decisions affecting its citizens, the head of the Dutch privacy watchdog said on Tuesday evening. 'The government must be transparent about it, and make clear in what way your details are being processed and how these decisions are being made,' Aleid Wolfsen said. Broadcaster NOS said earlier on Tuesday that government departments, including the police, tax office and local councils, are using algorithms - basically a set of rules allowing computers to process information - to make predictions. In particular, Wolfsen said there are fears that algorithms could strengthen discrimination. 'The prejudices we all have can end up in computer programmes,' he said. 'If a decision is taken about you and you don't know why, you cannot defend yourself against it,' he said. Student loans body DUO uses algorithms to 'take correct decisions' and has also experimented with using them to detect fraud, NOS said. Den Bosch city council is using them to 'improve its services' while the social affairs ministry uses them to make sure its inspectors 'go about their work with the best possible list of potential law breakers.' Check the list here Leiden University researcher Marlies van Eck told NOS she was shocked at how widespread the use of algorithms is. 'Discrimination is inherent in this technology,' she said. For example, if the police stop people from a certain population group more often, for whatever reason, they are more likely to appear in police statistics, and that will affect the algorithm, allowing other potential criminals to escape under the radar. The police say they use algorithms to identify 'vulnerable people' such as the victims of crime or child abuse, teenagers and young adults who risk becoming career criminals and people with mental health issues. But it remains unclear what information police are using to make their calculations, the broadcaster said.   More >