IMPRINTS meet the Dutch (again)

30 05 2014

The Dutch government is developing a new E-ID system and is, as part of its preparations, continuously mining the existing knowledge about identity management. They set up a Knowledge Platform in which different stakeholders from the government itself, academia and various developers and designers of IM systems come together to share questions and research. On May 21 members of the group (myself included) visited Schiphol Airport, partly to find out that ‘identity’ is not really an issue for the airport (only for its state partners, among whom the border police) but safety is. Who you are doesn’t really matter to the Schiphol corporation, as long as you have paid your dues, and don’t cause trouble at the airport or in the plane. In the afternoon we had a discussion about the new E-ID system ; from IMPRINTS we could provide the insight that often these systems are subject to heavy thinking and investments before roll out, but that much less thought and attention is given to the citizen who needs to use the E-ID services. For those citizens choice of ID-method, and control over/ ownership of personal data are key desires. The group as a whole came to the conclusion that ‘privacy’ is such a container concept that it is no longer specific enough for policy or systems developments.

Interestingly, the next day there was another meeting organized by a different platform, namely the Open Government (OG) Platform, which discusses how government data can be made public and usable for everyone. We were in a mid-sized town in the Netherlands (Tilburg) and heard some good examples of OG data provisions. Strangely however, nobody made the connections with the pending E-ID system: isn’t it predictable that when both movements (E-ID and Open Government) emerge together, there is bound to be a discussion about the relation between E-ID, OG and ‘privacy’? Who owns the data that the government has about you, and who has the right to keep them private? I tried to raise that issue but probably not in a very clear way. Will put it on the next agenda of one of the Knowledge Platforms.

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