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Dutch to Open Electronic Files on Children

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the we've-always-been-at-war-with-eurasia dept.

Privacy 532

Del writes "The Dutch government plans to open an electronic file on every child at birth as a tool to spot and protect the troubled kids of the future. All citizens will be tracked from cradle to grave in a single database - including health, education, family and police records."

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I wish this was a joke (4, Interesting)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564134)

As a privacy safeguard, no single person or agency will be able to access all contents of a file. But organizations can raise "red flags" in the dossier to caution other agencies about problems

And so what if one malicious worker has exclusive rights to view several hundred children? It doesn't matter if they have access to the whole database or not, even a "small pecentage" could be several hundred or thousand children. This is a pedaphile's ultimate dream.

The intention is to protect troubled children, Brouwer said. Until now, schools and police have been unable to communicate with each other about truancy records and criminality, which are often linked. "Child protection services will say, 'Hey, there's a warning flag from the police. There's another one from school. There's another one from the doctor," Brouwer said. "Something must be going on and it's time to call the parents in for a meeting."

And how long exactly will these records be kept? Also, this would be a good way to usher in a country-wide database of this sortfor every citizen. Start with the children, saying its "for the good of the kids", and then slowly introduce a more inclusive database, which would go under some other guise. It would seem that a database of children "for their safety" might be easier to pull of then a citizenry-wide database at first.

Every child will get a Citizens Service Number, making it easier to keep track of children with problems even when their families move.

This could have good uses, and assuming it was used exactly for the intent stated, this would be an excellent service. BUT, more often then not, these kinds of things get abused in some form or another. In every government there is some malicious back-room government worker who goes below the radar. These kinds of things get abused, and when it is a child at stake, the risks are even higher.

LOL POST LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564160)


Re:I wish this was a joke (2, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564178)

I agree with you. While I suspect thtat this has good intentions, this is the same thing as the patriot act or even gestapo. Basically, it allows a small group in the gov. to control the information about an individual. All somebody has to do is think about how well credit cards are protected (2 major CC processing companies broken into in under 4 years with literally 10 million CCs exposed), or think in terms of what is happening here in America WRT to tieing SSN, drivers license, federal ID, and PATRIOT ACT.

We won WWII, but yet, much of what we fought against, seems like it is coming into being anyways.

LOL POST LOL (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564197)


gestapo wtf (1, Insightful)

sangdrax (132295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564278)

You mean by opening these files we're only *this* close to the police busting in houses searching for jews and drag them to the gas chamber?

LOL POST LOL (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564283)


Re:gestapo wtf (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564312)

By keeping detailed files on every citizen "for their own good"?

A system which can later be handily used to flag if they're a Jew or not?

I don't know if it could be considered Nazi as such, but it certainly tends towards the Fascist nature.

LOL POST LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564343)


Re:I wish this was a joke (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564350)

While I suspect that this has good intentions

I think you can put that suspicion to rest.


Remove your tin foil hat (3, Insightful)

sangdrax (132295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564217)

Schools are pedaphile's dream, and far easier to access too. The Internet also offers possibilities. Yet we didn't ban them. Geez. Ofcourse the system won't be 100% hack proof. No system can be. It's about the advantages (keeping troubled kids from going unnoticed by the right people) weighing against the disadvantages (chance of system abuse).

Creating this system country-wide for all citizens is probably the future. It's not creating a totally new system: we already have nation-wide systems for national ID, criminal records, taxes etc anyway. They're just not linked, causing everyone headaches and people can abuse *that* as well. And far easier, too.

Also keep in mind that we don't carry this US trauma of the government being evil.

LOL POST LOL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564231)


Re:Remove your tin foil hat (1, Interesting)

chillmost (648301) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564244)

Also keep in mind that we don't carry this US trauma of the government being evil.

You will soon enough.


Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564249)


Re:I wish this was a joke (3, Informative)

wllf (627835) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564243)

The Dutch government has come under attack from the public because of some very nasty incidents during the last couple of years.

There were cases, highly profiled in the media, where children were abused and even murdered. In hindsite there were clues, but because the parents had moved a couple of times no-one had the whole picture. Child protection did not have information from there sister organizations from other cities, reports from police about the parents which would have provided vital clues about the home situation, were not available.

In general everytime something was going on with the children the people who had to judge the situation had to start from scratch.

What the government now proposes is under pressure from the public to do something and I think it is a good thing.

As much as slashdot loves the odd conspiracy theory left and right and as much as I distrust the Dutch government, I believe this is well intended. But it needs to be well thought out because the possibility of abuse is certainly there.


Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564258)


Re:I wish this was a joke (1)

rwhamann (598229) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564250)

This could have good uses, and assuming it was used exactly for the intent stated, this would be an excellent service. BUT, more often then not, these kinds of things get abused in some form or another. This reminds me of the famous question so often asked of us conservatives: Will you like the goverment to have the powers of the Patriot Act when Hillray Clinton is the President? How can we measure the value of what it prevents against what it will allow? I'm a firm believer that it's better for a hundred guilty to go free rather than one innocent be jailed. Another concern: will parents have access to this database? How much access?

LOL POST LOL (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564266)


Re:I wish this was a joke (2, Interesting)

footissimo (869107) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564259)

I am sure 'malicious workers' already have rights of access to files of vulnerable children. Putting everything in one database could make it easier to secure and to track who has access to such files (rather than on multiple smaller local authority databases).


Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564274)


Re:I wish this was a joke (4, Insightful)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564270)

As a privacy safeguard, no single person or agency will be able to access all contents of a file. But organizations can raise "red flags" in the dossier to caution other agencies about problems Even if that may solve some problems, it creates others realy serious. What this means is both that some grumpy social worker, on bad day, can flag a kid for life, and there is no way for anyone to put a judgement on the social workers decision. Also, gifted children often have behavioral problerms which can not be easily diagnosed for what they are.


Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564280)


Re:I wish this was a joke (2, Informative)

koekepeer (197127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564354)

and this is not different from the situation as it is now. i personally know some people who work with troubled kids/families, and believe me, they try all they can to make very careful decisions.

negligence of one person can still exist. but in this system, at least all (independent) opinions are collected, which should have a neutralising influence. any professional social worker will look at a case as unbiased as possible. you must realise that the clients often have become very proficient at "fooling" social workers... in this case such a "red flag" could help in the line of questioning at the intake of a client in a new region.

Re:I wish this was a joke (1)

DenDave (700621) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564291)

It is astounding how much this current neo-con government in Holland is gettign away with! First ISP data interception and retention, then convicting people by withholding dna evidence! And now they want to gestapize the social security! And this in a country which used to be vehement about civil rights!!!


Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564315)


Re:I wish this was a joke (1)

Associate (317603) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564333)

Was that before or after they started the slave trade?
I'm sorry. That was a low blow.


Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564366)


Finally we can track human migration! (2, Funny)

kahanamoku (470295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564138)

Like tags on pidgeons!

ugh (5, Insightful)

neurokaotix (892464) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564140)

It's dangerous storing all information about people in one, most likely easilly hackable location.

Re:ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564161)

Now I wonder what's so dangerous about keeping a central database of persons. It somehow alert a bunch of people what the word "children" involved. But what is the real danger of this?

Re:ugh (1)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564199)

imagine that theres a paid hitman that is coming to get you ... he could have lots of difficulties questioning people to find out where you live who your grandparents are, where did you last time cross the border etc. now we are saving his time by making it available to him with 1 sql query ...

efficient ... but do you really would like this to happen ? i dont think so ...

anyway, i think that this is actually against human/privacy rights to put his data out far in the open before he/she can even say "mama" for the first time ...

on the other hand, we all will end up in a database one day anyway (we are all 'kindof' in the slashdot database, aint we ? :p), so "Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated ..."

besides, this way you get to search for a girlfriend easilly, just one query with some measures/behaviour notices and you have your date ...

Re:ugh (1)

rwhamann (598229) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564331)

besides, this way you get to search for a girlfriend easilly, just one query with some measures/behaviour notices and you have your date ...


'cuz you know it's the crazy ones that make the best flings ...

Re:ugh (1)

randomblast (730328) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564342)

The Dutch have no hitmen.
They have only pancakes and bongs.

Re:ugh (3, Insightful)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564339)

Now I wonder what's so dangerous about keeping a central database of persons. It somehow alert a bunch of people what the word "children" involved. But what is the real danger of this?

Here's an answer I gave over a year ago on Slashdot. Coincidentally, it used as an example Dutch history, and a particular Dutch girl who was anything but protected by the authorities.

I was writing in reply to a commenter like you who saw nothing to worry about. That commenter wrote:
Think of this utopia: The government is honest, never abuses info collected about the people,... Now would you really mind having a lot of data about yourself collected,... Collecting personal data by itself is harmless.

Anyway, here's how I replied last May, on what happened to be the 44th anniversary of the Dutch surrender to Nazi Germany:

Ok, I'm thinking of your utopia. I'll even make it a better utopia: I'll posit that no business try to hack into the government databases for personal gain. And I'll go so far as to pretend that no government employee with access ever abuses that access for personal reasons. []

Now, imagine that your utopia is The Netherlands. And imagine it's not May 15, 2004, but May 15, 1940 -- one day after The Netherlands surrendered to Nazi Germany. Note that in surrendering, The Netherlands legally turned over government control to the Nazis. Presumably that would included your database -- if the Nazis hadn't simply seized it outright.

Your utopian database contains the details of all residents, anyone who might join the Resistance, and all the Jews -- including Otto and Edith Frank and their daughters Margot and Anne.
The Frank family managed to hide from the Nazis for two years; how long do you think they'd manage in your "utopia".

Now some will say that there's little chance of Nazi invasions these day, so we should feel safe with "utopian" databases. But it doesn't take a foreign invasion to radically change a government: sometimes it just takes an election, of an Anzar or a Berlusconi or a Blair & Blunkett team or a Bush or a Howard -- or a former war criminal like Waldheim.

Remember COINTELPRO [] ?

Here's the original comment [] .

Maybe the Dutch aren't reading their history any more, or maybe they just think history is over. It surely is over for Anne Frank and most of the others who got tattooed with generated id numbers and entered into the Nazi's great big people-exterminating database.

But, as always, there's a new generation ready to trust that the government and their oh-so-well-intentioned Leaders will never do wrong. I mean, it's not like FEMA was ever misused for political reasons, right? Right?,

Re:ugh (3, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564177)

Personally I'd be more worried about what the Government would be doing with that wealth of information verses what the balls-to-the-wall, caffeine-hyped, advertising firm-paid cracker would do.

There are some crazy things a government could do with that kind of information; track genetic traits, mental defects, medical procedures, medicines taken.. This information is a combination of things that us Americans see as private and need things such as subpenas to see.. Now the police department can be granted access to rummage and look for "possible offenders" before they do anything wrong.

It has strong uses, but its misuses seem to out number them (IMO) in a society that still has troubles seeing everyone as an equal. This "development" is very far ahead of its time.

Re:ugh (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564336)

``This information is a combination of things that us Americans see as private and need things such as subpenas to see.. Now the police department can be granted access to rummage and look for "possible offenders" before they do anything wrong. ''

"Funny" that if you look at what's actually happening, the US is keeping thousands of possible offenders locked up without trial or even a prospect of it, while the Dutch are releasing possible offenders for lack of evidence. I don't like our (I am Dutch) government, but there's a long way to go before it becomes as bad as in the US.

It is true, though, that the Dutch government has broad means and power to spy on its citizens, and uses it, too. I would like to see some data on how effective this actually is in terms of catching criminals and getting them convicted (evidence gathered this way is not considered in court), but I suspect it's not very helpful.

Re:ugh (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564384)

I (as an American) am staunchly against what is happening in Guantanamo Bay; I think it's an absolute travesty, and I believe that the international community should not look at these past five years as an example of how the United States of America deals with a problem.

I would be entirely for economic sanctions against America until we released those people from that base. It's disgusting that we have that much of a lack of respect for the other countries on this planet. It's disgusting to think that our military personel are so entrenched in following orders that nobody would stand up to their superiors and say that what we are doing is just plain wrong.

Luckily, I live in a very liberal community where protesting is a right of passage more than civil disobediance, and I have personally wrote my congressman about this (along with a hundred different topics for different discussions here on Slashdot), but I'm afraid as a single human being my clout doesn't reach that far. The American People should have stood up in 2004 when they had a chance to put an end to this madness...

Re:ugh (1)

KillShill (877105) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564203)

if the cartels respected copyright and not increased the duration to greater than the time it takes the universe to die of heat loss and made it possible and legal to prevent lawful uses of purchased media (allowing backup for example) then the public would be far more inclined to respect copyright.

isn't it ironic that the first hollywood studios moved out west where the patent police couldn't bust them for "STEALING" Edison's work. sure patents and copyright are different but they both fall into, in their words, the "intellectual property" domain.

the onus is on them to fix their side before they can even remotely accuse anyone of not respecting copyright.

sorry offtopic but still, it needs to be addressed.

Re:ugh (1)

Associate (317603) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564345)

Shouldn't this be in the other article about patents?

Not about storing information (2, Informative)

Frans Faase (648933) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564372)

If I understood it correctly, this is not about storing information. It is only about telling which organisations store information about a certain child. This will be based on the personal number that each Dutch person receives.

There are strict rules with respect to which organisation are allowed to exchange information, and in many cases parents have to give written permission. I often had to sign such forms when dealing with various child health organisations and individuals.

those dutch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564142)

Something's rotten in the Netherlands...

Re:those dutch (3, Insightful)

msh104 (620136) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564305)

as a dutch person, I have to agree
it seems that many of the new directions we are heading in are in the wrong direction.

and guess what... most of this new thinking direction is about fucking terrorism. to "protect" us.

laws are already being passed to arrest people who haven't yet commited a crime but "might" do so in the near future. (because it is not much use to arrest someone who is going to blow himself up after he commited the crime.

according to our government they would even like to expanding this by making adoration for terrorists a crime. thinks like "I think bin laden is a cool guy" or "man, really darn nice explosion a few weeks ago" could very well cause you big trouble.

the problem is this kind of thinking is that it could very well cause people who are actually joking or haven't done anything to go to jail, it is also a very usable power source if they would decide to use it for bad things. and it is also a first direction into the breaking down of our freedom of speech.

our government is heading in the wrong direction. and in general, there is no such thing as turning back...

just hoping this isn't a general scenario.

Questions about this (4, Insightful)

SB5 (165464) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564145)

Is this meant for control as in "Brave New World". Or is this meant for research? Knowing the Dutch, and the way this is worded, it seems to goal of this is noble. Whether it will stay noble is the question.

Don't forget... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564292)

The Netherlands also holds the record in the highest telephone tap rate [] of most western countries.

Re:Questions about this (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564295)

It certainly doesn't seem to be meant for control. It seems a sincere effort to try and address the problems of the youth in the country. And all that is happening is that institutions who get confronted with kids' problems will now share their information a bit more. I see that as a very sensible thing.

Re:Questions about this (3, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564360)

The problem is that this system, good intention or not, has such a large net of effectiveness that it is overwhelmingly a positive, and overwhelmingly a negative situation, all rolled into one convenient digital package.

This has honestly hit me like a load of bricks tonight. The societial rammifications this kind of system could have are absolutely mindboggling. I honestly didn't believe I would live to see the day that this kind of system made it to the real world, but here we are, and the floodgates are open and wrought with a flood of questions.

While one would hope the government will approach this system with a level of benevolence that the all-mighty Google would bow to, I have the overwhelming pit forming in my stomach that it might not be the case. The peacetime and wartime uses of this system for any political power are so far and beyond that of anything that exists today; one could argue that this is a more dangerous weapon than a nuclear arsenal.

The one pit in this program that really burns me is that these human beings are being borne into it. They have no choice to the matter of how this information is collected and generated about them. The system has no opt-in or opt-out features to allow anyone who doesn't agree with the government on how their information is collected to stand out. The system has very few failsafes mentioned on how it would deal with a breech in security, a data-retention policy wasn't discussed.. there are so many questions that a single post could not possibly deal with them all. I hope the government is ready to open up their phone lines and listen, and that the people won't smile and nod their way through what is easily the most important and scary decision of their child's future.

Good luck Dutchmen.

Re:Questions about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564301)

both far right and far left governments have a history of wet-dreaming about such power. I'd rather not hand it to them now or ever.

Re:Questions about this (1)

Guus.der.Kinderen (774520) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564400)

This comes as a response to numerous child-abuse cases in the last few years that hit the national news here:

  • A few years ago, limbs of one child were found scattered in different places;
  • A few months ago, a girl was discovered dead in the trunk of her mothers car, after being neglected for her entire, short, life;
  • A few weeks ago, two kids were beaten to death by the new boyfriend of their mother.

In most cases, there were strong indications of problems before the murders. In all cases, child protection obviously failed. Our politicians are trying to set that right now. I'm not sure this is the right way, but I personally am glad that something is being done.

Who watches the watchers? (1)

The Ivan (848147) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564149)

TFA says: "As a privacy safeguard, no single person or agency will be able to access all contents of a file. " I say: "Yeah, right!" Fascinating to see Stasi-tendencies combined with computers.

Re:Who watches the watchers? (2, Insightful)

martijnd (148684) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564294)

And does this system come with an auto-destruct build in? In case of invasion for example. So nice to have Scape-Goat Catagory A come out in handy alphabatized lists.

Maybe not likely at the moment, but the one of the things people gave their lives trying to do following the German invasion of the Netherlands was to make sure as many public records were destroyed, all paperbased then, but still very usefull for tracking down "unwanted" elements for deportation.

Far fetched? It happened before for crying out loud. Doesn't have be an invasion, a change of government for the worse would be enough. Oh, sure, we are in an enlightned "post" war society these days. Crap.

Safeguards mean nothing on a system where a government is able to give it self unlimited access at any time in the future.

Wouldn't it be nice to filter out each potential future muslim extremist, and assign a stasi member for regular check ups? Sure, they can already do that, but its probably not as easy yet.

Thing is, this process is unstopable, as of course its the next thing todo, and hey, its good for the children themselves.

We already do the same thing with cows. Might as well give children one of those big yellow plastic ID tags in their ears for easy tracking between farms/schools.

I suggest we do away with names altogether; just numbers for each person. No names, sex, religion or any other easily filtered information is to be stored. Be very suspicious when someone is saying "you are more than a number to us"

Ok, enough paranoia, some tea is in order.

mmm... (2, Funny)

psallitesapienter (809284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564151)

Well, there goes Big Brother... again.

Sounds familiar... (0, Redundant)

bassgoonist (876907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564153)

Like something that might lead to a gattaca like society...?

At Least We're Informed (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564159)

One good thing about the media in the Netherlands is that this new system has been visibly covered in the media. I can well imagine that it would have been swept under the rug in other places; after all, it's just various organizations dealing with children and their problems cooperating.

What's going on (5, Informative)

jeroenb (125404) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564162)

What is really going on is that the already existing files of different agencies are being coupled in an attempt to keep children in difficult situations from falling off the radar when for instance they move to a different city. Child protection services often didn't know about children moving into the city with problems in their past - in the old database the record would be closed and they wouldn't turn up in the new one until something actually happened (which is usually too late).

So I hope this is not interpreted as a terrible invasion of privacy - all the information is already collected by local governments. The only change is that moving from one local government's area to another doesn't mean those services lose all information.

Re:What's going on (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564226)

Even if I would step back and honestly believe that it's not a terrible invasion of privacy, which I'm willing to do for a post or two on slashdot, it will be incredibly telling to see how the government will use this new ability to crosslink and track people a lot more closely.

This is one of the few times where centralization makes sense in one light, but is completely blind in another. Police officers could track "potential offenders" by running a query on who's doing badly in school and who comes from more troubled areas in cities. Governments could decide more closely who gets benefits for college education based on what high schools they came from, what exactly their grades were in every subject, and on what their intended major in college was going to be. These kinds of databases in America are not connected, and thus, everything's a mediated shot in the dark, but with the connections the Dutch will be making, well, anything's possible.

Sitting on the opening of a system like this, we can only speculate what it will mean for the dutch people. We'll have to wait at least another 20 years to see what's really becoming of the system, and then we will have an objective standpoint in which to base judgement. The government saying it will be benevolent now means nothing to me when in five years the whole regime is changed out for a new radical party with cross views on certain topics (hints abound what I'm talking about).

Additional background information (4, Informative)

Frans Faase (648933) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564334)

In the past year, several times children have died because of molest, when several authorities where aware of things going wrong. In some cases ten or more different organisations where involved with a family but not knowing about each other. After the child died, it was realized that the life of the child could have been saved, if the organisations had been aware of eachother.

Judgement day... (1)

csplinter (734017) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564163)

In the year 2036 lucht-net goes sentient.

Re:Judgement day... (2, Funny)

Jedyte (640981) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564207)

The funny thing is, in Belgium, our main ISP is indeed called Skynet [] .

Re:Judgement day... (1)

csplinter (734017) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564223)

haha thats great

Potential for exhortion/blackmail? (2, Insightful)

_tognus (903491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564166)

If these records are as exhaustive as they seem to be, what are the risks of blackmail?

High, IMO.

Re:Potential for exhortion/blackmail? (1)

pahles (701275) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564352)

And who are you going to blackmail then? Like said in other posts, there are already databases filled with data, but they just aren't coupled. How will coupling them raise the risk of blackmail?

The true use.. (2, Insightful)

BlackMesaLabs (893043) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564168)

1)Get national repository of everyones demographics, from birth to death, catalog everything.

2)Find marketing company


Re:The true use.. (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564238)

1)Get national repository of everyones demographics, from birth to death, catalog everything.

2) Pay crackers to hack into the municipal database, target advertisements specifically to each individual based on their medical and criminal histories.



Serious Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564174)

I think most reasonable people automatically say this is very very bad, but are not really themselves sure of the actual reason. I see alot of fear about the general collection of information, but nobody really has a good, solid, definite reason why it's such a horrendous idea.

Hell, big corporations already do this! It's called a credit score.

Let's say that all this information is completely available to the public. How would that change society? Have you ever considered the benifits of such a system?

Re:Serious Question (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564205)

On the other hand ... the presumption that a massive, government funded and maintained database is bad is good. Like any new power that a government attempts to arrogate to itself, it should be questioned and said government should be required to show that there are real public benefits, and that such benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

That's in an ideal world, of course.

Re:Serious Question (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564380)

Ummm... yes. I have. And personally, I don't want a credit score, and I sure as hell don't want any MORE national databases. Governments have proven to be as incompetent and evil and corporations. Why should they be PAID (it *is* our money, after all) to track this?

People seem to act like the government is in charge. The whole point of governments in general is to take care of the stuff that individuals can't do alone. Sewer, water, streets, armies, etc. If the Dutch want such a system, good. If not, that can be fixed. Sometimes the fixes are quiet, sometimes not.


Jawohl! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564185)

I know everything!

--Sgt. Schultz

including health, education, family... (2, Funny)

bashibazouk (582054) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564187)

THC in the blood stream...

Can someone enlighten me... (4, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564188)

why no country has attempted to do this sort of thing? For the entire world, there could be only 6 billion records - a single nation would need to have less than a billion - maybe a few million for most countries.

What can be the security implications for storing things like name, date of birth, sex, present address, etc. for all citizens? It's amazing that in these days of hi-tech gadgets and advances in storage, such elementary data is not available OR not reliably accurate.

Even population estimates have a more than 10% error rate for most nations. How can we plan for social welfare and emergency relief when we don't have accurate data? Amazing, really...

Re:Can someone enlighten me... (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564204)

Previous story on /. was entitled: Unintended Consequences

Theoretically, in the US there is a presumption of a right to privacy in the Constitution. Even the Roberts hearings today gave no hint of a reversal on this one...

Re:Can someone enlighten me... (2, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564298)

Nobody has attempted it yet because it is very shaky ground to step upon. What anyone could do with this kind of centralized information is nightmarish, and at the same time it seems like such an obvious idea.

Imagine if you would, a worse case scenario taking place where the Nazi's would have a municipal database pointing them to every Jew in their country. Do you think it would have been possible for any of them to escape? Or how about here in America; track every Mexican person that ever crossed a border to try to give their child citizenship and a good future, and deport the ones with "the worse history", be it based on criminal records or genetic profiling.

You would think in a civilized world, people wouldn't need to do any of these things, and yet, they still happen, even today. With terrorism being a hot-button issue, imagine what an anti-terrorist country could do with a database of every known terrorist, who they are related to, who they've come into contact to.. the murder and detention would be madness to think about.

With great power comes great responsibility. The Dutch obviously think that their politicial climate is primed for such responsibility, that their socioeconomic pressure is great enough for a need for this kind of system to be in place. While it could do great good for welfare systems, great good for making sure no young students "fall through the cracks", great good for those families who are broken apart by sex offenders, this same system has the overwhelming potential for the bad.

I wouldn't mind it as much if it were an opt-in system; if these files were created as the person came to age and had the ability to register what they were doing by entering into a database where anyone could know anything they needed to know with a few clicks. I wouldn't mind as much because Pedophiles couldn't abuse this. I wouldn't mind as much because people would have choice. But starting them at birth is like The Matrix or Gattica; no escape from the system unchanged.

Re:Can someone enlighten me... (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564371)

why no country has attempted to do this sort of thing?

Oh, but they have! Look for "Stasi" on wikipedia.


Curse or Blessing? (4, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564193)

The blurb (and TFA) are a bit misleading. They suggest that Dutch citizens will now be tracked ``from cradle to grave'', whereas they hadn't been before.

In reality, what's happening is that schools, police, and various organizations for the protection of children, psychiatric institutions, etc. are already doing this tracking.

What's changing is that they will now exchange information about which kids have caused or otherwise been in trouble.

The rationale is that by improving communication between these institutions, kids can be more adequately helped. For example, a school can receive information from a child protection institution that says the child is having trouble at home, and link that to the fact that the child is often missing from school.

Re:Curse or Blessing? (2, Funny)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564229)

I can imagine that if someone starts with bad behavior, it might build over time. This system would allow authorities to detect it.

E.g. Little Ballmer pushes around chairs in pre-school. Says bad words like "poopy" and "butt".

Teenage Ballmer: rips flies apart, but also throws chairs, says "pussy" and "fuck".

CEO Ballmer: scares the bejeezus out of a nice employee, calls Eric Schmidt a "pussy" and says he'll kill him. Throws chairs for effect.

If they had a database like that showing that from age 4 or so he engaged in violent, aggressive and just plain nasty behavior, it would help to build a case against him.

Re:Curse or Blessing? (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564296)

This system is not intended to track bad behavior of the child, but to detect bad behavior against the child.
So it is not a record of what he did in school, but what possible child-abuse has been reported about him.

This still could be of use in later life, but not in the way it is pinctured above.

It is inevitable (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564196)

Information is power and power is corrupting.

To hand over such a wide and vast array of names, locations, places, births, lives, and deaths seems to cry to me of Neo-Communist or Fascist ideals.

Think about it. This is about the same situation that is presented in 1984 by George Orwell and I believe this would be the first step to a much larger, scarier and indeed more powerful Big Brother.

Finally, there is -no- such thing as -secure- data. This data WILL be leaked at some point in time, or someone will figure out how to extract things from the database without being caught.

There is already a nonexistant undercurrent for pedophiles and information of vulnerable children. Selling this kind of information speaks of a new Black Market; the Black Market of information, revised second edition.

Worse still, the situation could be even more far removed than anyone could perceive at this moment. Imagine this kind of a system implemented with such a thing like RFID. The numbers would make it easy for the government to follow Citizen #4032892, who learned of a few corrupt politians in the immediate government, was going to cry wolf, and was deemed to be 'silenced' in such a way that no-one would know it was the Government.

Regardless of whether or not this was intended as a 'good' or a 'bad' solution to the world's troubles, any centralized database of information will be broken into, stolen from, and immediately prone to the scrutiny of those who do not wish to be kept record in it due to its inherent security.

True also, this system would work nicely for things like medicinal and social purposes, but the potential for bad is far worse than equal to the potential for good.

Whereas the good effects of this system are only brought out through using something else other than the database, evil needs only information to thrive.

I believe that this is going to be a terrible folly on humanity's part. Also, this could be the first step to a much darker reality. When the government of your nation knows who you are, knows what you're doing, and knows everything about you, if you do anything to upset them, they have all the resources in the world to kill you outright before your 'radical' ideas spread.

Even worse, since it is a centralized, 'trusted' databse, the government could forge information on that person saying that his parents were terrorists and he was following in the same vein according to terrorist documents and bombs of various makes in his home [which were planted, of course].

Welcome to the Secure Future! Where if you believe ANYTHING you own is secure, you're a @#)(@NAin' looney.

I suspect that either people will realize the inherent flaws and reject the design or see to shallowly and never realize the potential for great evil within the slumbering beast masquerading as a gentle cat.

-James C. Woodall,

Yeh but (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13564198)

The dutch also have progressive ideas on many concepts such as drug prohibition and prostitution.

Funny how their radical ideas don't seem to inflict great harm on their society though.

"Mr Smith, do you still believe in love?" (1)

dauthur (828910) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564200)

I don't mean to be so terse, but... wasn't there something written about this in 1948 by a wonderful man named George Orwell? I can't possibly think of the name for my life...

come on. (1)

LackaDaisy (825281) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564208)

i'm pretty sure the title should read "netherlands government to Open Electronic Files on Children" i can't help it, it's in my blood.

Principle is *backwards*--WE should own OUR info (4, Insightful)

shanen (462549) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564210)

This is just the natural extension of what's been going on over the last few decades, and the movement to the governmental level is just the natural limit. The potential for abuse is enormous--and you can basically rest assured such power over individuals will be abused. Perhaps not so much by the Dutch, who are basically reasonable people (IMO), but there are lots of much less reasonable governments out there.

The operative legal principle should be that our personal information belongs to the individual, and if someone (even someone who works for the government and who "wants to help you") wants to store data about you, they should be required to store that information on YOUR PODS (personally owned data storage). Easy enough to use a checksum to prevent you from modifying the information, but if they want to see it again, they should be required to say why, and you should have the right to agree or disagree to their proposed use of your personal information.

Trivial example, if you want to borrow money from a bank, then the bank would have good reason to query your PODS for information about your financial history. If you don't agree to provide enough information, then the bank is not going to agree to the loan. However, once they've made the decision to loan you the money, they should store the records on your own PODS, and erase most of the personal information at their end. Once you've finished paying off the loan, they'd have no reason to keep any of your personal information (though the records would still be stored on your computer if you want them again, as for another loan).

Re:Principle is *backwards*--WE should own OUR inf (1)

Ivo (26920) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564337)

This completely bypasses the point. One of the points is that, children that are abused by their parents, will be able to get better help because police, government, school, all will be able to communicate to improve a child's situation.

Now I don't think an abusing parent would allow the kid to carry its pod anywhere.

Re:Principle is *backwards*--WE should own OUR inf (1)

shanen (462549) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564388)

Try thinking of it in terms of the Fifth Amendment. I admit that this is an aspect which I haven't specifically researched, but I've never heard of a child trying to take the Fifth. While in general parents do have strong legal rights over their own children, I don't think they could interfere with the police searching for evidence of child abuse, and in this case, the police would (and with good reason) be able to get a warrant to open the child's PODS if it seemed likely to contain evidence relevant to such an investigation.

What is happening now is that more and more of your personal information is being stored "out there" somewhere, by companies that turn around and buy and sell us.

Another trivial example, but I never knowingly agreed that my credit information should be collected and become part of the database of a very profitable credit information company. However, according to existing laws (if I understand American law correctly), they now own that information and there is nothing I can do about it. (There is a slight loophole now insofar as recent legal interventions now give us some access to that personal information, and even limited rights to challenge the validity of some of it.)

Re:Principle is *backwards*--WE should own OUR inf (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564386)

"Trivial example, if you want to borrow money from a bank, then the bank would have good reason to query your PODS for information about your financial history."

Actually, you could almost do this with iPods; your bank manager might be able to extrapolate your financial 'personality' based on music collection on your iPod

One more wire (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564215) a country that is at the top of the list in terms of spying on its citizens. And they still can't keep people from getting killed or terrorist groups from forming or entering the country. Let this be a lesson to all you people advocating tougher laws to crack down on terrorism. It just doesn't work.

What They Don't Tell You Is... (3, Funny)

JohnPerkins (243021) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564232)

...that each child will have to carry their own information in a frisbee glued to their backs.

Re:What They Don't Tell You Is... (1)

csplinter (734017) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564269)

I heard about that, I think this is the model [] they eventually decided on.

There are two types of people I can't stand... (2)

bobobobo (539853) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564263)

People who are intolerant of other people's culture.... and the Dutch!

Lessons of History (5, Insightful)

Budenny (888916) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564279)

You would have thought the Dutch of all people would understand the dangers. In Holland before WWII the local authorities had records of the religion of their people. The reason was simple, so that contributions could be made to the churches on their behalf. All very reasonable and in keeping with tolerance and religious diversity. But come the invasion, it was very very simple to find everyone of a given religion.... It is not what these guys will use this stuff for, its what their successors may use it for.

This is partly about terrorism (1)

kop (122772) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564289)

The murderer of Theo van Gogh []
Was known to the police as a member of a group of Moroccan "problem-youth." Later he worked as a volunteer at Eigenwijks, a neighbourhood organization in the Slotervaart suburb of Amsterdam. He started to radicalize shortly after his mother died and his father re-married.

Various social workers, police neighbourhood watchers and the secret service knew him. Only nowbody knew what was coming...

These plans can thus be understood as a way to keep better track of the muslim youth in our cities. This is political and big-brother like.
On the other hand it simply makes sense to do this as it will allmost certainly help to keep these young people on the right track with jobs and education.

not just security/privacy (1)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564297)

everyone's comments seem to only be concerned with the privacy issues involved here, but i see a lot more to worry about..

how many of us slashdotters were in trouble as kids. how many of us pulled girls' hair and got into fights, said stupid remarks back to the teachers, and so on.

while i never did anything so destructive as to damage someone or something too much, there were probably some teachers that would have loved to throw a red flag on my as vengence for a cut down i made during class. what implications might this red flag have? could one teacher's irresponsibility destroy a student's future (or even simply make them jump through hoops when they graduate or buy a cell phone or get a credit card)?

In the words of Eddie Griffin... (1)

Afecks (899057) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564303)


Problems with Kids Caused by Parents? (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564321)

It's nice that they're trying to help kids and all, but why don't they do something about the parents? I'm not so surprised that in a society where parents are both working (no attention for kids), divorced (psychological damage/no time and money for kids), or oppressive (e.g. certain muslim families), the kids might get into trouble with themselves.

So now these organizations come up with the good idea to warn each other of possible problems, but at the same time the government gives in to working parents by increasing subsidies on child care. I mean, if you find child care too expensive, why don't you just quit your job and, you know, raise your friggin kids?! Could cut you some stress, too, so that maybe you can stay together with your partner for more than 5 years?

Sounds like fun to me. (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564353)

Citizen 4982245673 I see you have repeatedly kept your movies past their due date and have been late to work 3 times in the past year. Please report to room 203 for re-education.

Old news (1)

TarryTops (888130) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564357)

Was already released yesterday.

Your RIGHTS Online ? (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564359)

Could we change the section name to something more accurate like "Your Lefts Online" ?

Things sound more and more like Minipax, Miniluv...

Who gives a damn if this is well intentioned... (2, Insightful)

birge (866103) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564368)

Sometimes things are just wrongheaded, no matter what the intentions. There's no reason the government should be taking this much personal interest in citizens. It's not just that it's ripe for abuse so much as it's an indicator that the Dutch have completely given up on taking care of themselves and their communities on any level other than a centralized beaurocracy. What does it say about a society when they feel the best way to Do The Right Thing is to keep a central database on each other and pay the government to track their children for them? I hope I speak for a majority of voters in America when I respectfully say please keep that shit on the other side of the pond. (To head off the knee-jerk reactions: Yes, I know America is a place devoid of compassion for the poor, and that we might do better with an Orwellian scheme like this than what we're doing now. I'm not saying America does things right, I'm just saying I hope that in attempting to fix our problems we don't go anywhere near this kind of 'solution'.)

Re:Who gives a damn if this is well intentioned... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564401)

It's not just that it's ripe for abuse so much as it's an indicator that the Dutch have completely given up on taking care of themselves and their communities on any level other than a centralized beaurocracy.

Then again, you can probably find American "communities" that are larger than the Netherlands.

Wow (4, Funny)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564374)

One stop Identity-theft shopping!


I wish it was more technical (2, Interesting)

schestowitz (843559) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564383)

This is Slashdot. I frankly think that the item neglects some of the interesting facts. For example: how would the Dutch government store the data? Will our data be stored in some opaque Excel format, for example?

Convenient! (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 8 years ago | (#13564385)

From TFA:
Every child will get a Citizens Service Number
That's conventient, I don't have to remember my kids' names!

"Hey 35543334, come here for a second, will ya?"

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