Camera surveillance, scan cars and information poles. The municipality of Eindhoven collects sensitive data from residents in numerous ways. The city has been careless with that data for years, say experts and privacy watchdogs, much to the dismay of politicians. “We must ensure that we properly protect the digital fundamental rights of residents.”
The criticism of the municipality is not new. For years, the alarm bells have been sounded by various authorities. Still, the situation has not improved. In 2022 alone, there were more than 300 data breaches or potential privacy breaches. In addition, leaks were not reported or not reported on time. That is why the city is under stricter supervision by the Dutch Data Protection Authority.
According to Joost Geertman, committee member of D66, there is a reason why Eindhoven still does not have security in order after years. “The world is constantly changing. It takes knowledge, willpower and people.” Moreover, according to him, legislation is lagging behind technological development.
It is also unclear who is responsible, adds Len Snelders of the VVD. “Who takes that responsibility? Does it lie with the alderman, the previous alderman, an official who made a mistake or with the council? It is very difficult.”
Digital fundamental rights of citizens
Politicians agree that change is necessary. Not least because mistakes are still being made. “This week,” says Volt councilor Inge Teklanburg, “people had given permission for something in an app and the municipality had bought that data. Then that information was used to make an analysis, while it was not clear whether that was allowed.”
And that must change in the future, say the politicians. There must be more clarity for Eindhoven residents. “What is done with my data, why is this done with my data and how does the municipality ensure that it is done securely”, Len Snelders explains. “So that residents understand what happens to their data,” says Eva de Bruijn of GroenLinks.
Steps are now being taken by the Municipal Executive to change the situation. Together with the Dutch Data Protection Authority, alderman Mieke Verhees is working on a plan to improve security.
For Eindhoven News: Lila Mehrez