Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 18 November 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.Government to use data from GPS devices
De Telegraaf reports the government will use data from GPS devices to be installed in cars as part of a pay-as-you-go scheme scheduled for introduction in 2012.
The bill submitted to parliament allows police and the intelligence services to use data tracking of a vehicle’s movements when the “security of the state” is at stake, or in case of “the prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal acts”.
The conservative opposition party VVD and the populist Freedom Party expressed concerned that this was another way for the government to spy on its citizens.
De Telegraaf wrote that after tapping phone lines and checking licence plates via cameras installed over motorways, the GPS device – which has been dubbed ‘Camiel’s box’ after Traffic Minister Camiel Eurlings – is offering the government yet another treasure trove of possibilities.
VVD MPs Charlie Aptroot and Fred Teeven said it’s ‘a real Big Brother is Watching You’ story, and Freedom Party MP Richard de Mos said: “Next thing you know, all the information will be available to the politburo as usual”.
The transport minister said the information about what routes were driven at which dates will remain confidential, but the VVD remained suspicious.
MP Charlie Aptroot said: “It would not be the first time that the government uses secret data after all, simply because it decides it’s important.”
However, Christian Union MP Ernst Cramer felt the whole privacy debate is being blown out of proportion.
“Our supermarket bonus cards and our mobile phone data mean our lives are public property anyway. I feel it’s quite convenient if my phone provider knows what my daily route is. I may get direct information about traffic jams and about that one petrol station where I can get a one-cent discount”.
Justice ministry to crack down on forced marriages
Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin wants the Public Prosecutors’ Office to have wider powers to prosecute those who force others to get married.
Trouw wrote while forced marriages are illegal in the Netherlands; the current legislation has its limitations. The Dutch authorities can only prosecute a Dutch citizen abroad for forced marriage if the country where the marriage is taking place also deems it as a crime. A foreigner living in the Netherlands also cannot be prosecuted for a forced marriage concluded abroad.
In a letter to parliament, the justice minister said the situation was unacceptable: “Forcing a person to get married runs counter to the Dutch legal order”, and wants to amend current legislation accordingly.
The minister also wrote that the minimum marriageable age should be raised to 18 for all marriages, including all foreign marriages recognised in the Netherlands.
The amendment is also intended to prevent minors with little education and skills from coming to the Netherlands.
One in five secondary school children depressed
Free newspaper De Pers reported a recent survey by regional health authorities across the Netherlands showed that one in five students in secondary education are suffering from depression.
A small number indicated they faced serious problems, while many of the depressed children were unhappy about their home situation.
The survey also showed students in vocational education were more prone to depression than their counterparts in senior general secondary education or pre-university education.
According to the survey, girls were more often depressed than boys.
While gloomy feelings are normal in adolescence, many local councils have decided to adjust their health policies geared regarding young people. The psychological health of young people is also a point of special interest to the cabinet.
Majority of Dutch retail websites are not secure
AD reported most Dutch retail websites are not safe. Criminals can easily tap internet communication with 88 percent of more than 13,000 Dutch retail websites.
The data came from a survey conducted by the internet security company Networking4all, which checked all internet shops which use the iDeal system that allows customers to pay directly via their own banks.
The survey showed several major websites still do not have adequate security, including the NS (Dutch national railways), the Kras travel company and famous theme park Madurodam.
Networking4all Director Paul van Brouwershaven said: “When you buy a train ticket online, criminals can see who bought the ticket and what date and time it is for, so they know when the traveller will not be at home. This is a violation of the legal obligation to encrypt personal data.”
In a reaction, NS said personal data are being encrypted with the exception of the “scanty information” including name, date of birth and email address. Madurodam said it is working on better security and the Kras travel company did not react.
While the percentage of retail websites with adequate security has increased from 9 to 12 percent, there are still more unsafe (3,402) than safe (782) websites who have newly opened their virtual doors on the internet.
“Just one major incident involving massive fraud, and the whole market of internet sales would collapse,” said van Brouwershaven.
The Dutch Data Protection Authority did not comment on whether they are investigating inadequate security at internet shops.
Flock of sheep in Maastricht
AD featured a photograph of a group of primary school children watching a shepherd and his dog herd no less than 250 sheep right through the centre of the south-eastern city of Maastricht.
The sheep, which are used as natural ‘lawn mowers’ in several nature reserves around the city, were being taken to their winter accommodation. Twice a year, the sheep make the trek across the city centre.
The sheep keep the grass short, which gives other plant species a better chance of survival, and the seeds and bugs getting caught in their fleece helps spread these species and bring more variety to the nature reserves.
Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica