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How Runaway Algorithms Brought Down the Dutch Government
A Dutch court ruled in 2020 that an algorithmic system for detecting fraud in the welfare system called 'SyRI' violated human rights and had to be stopped. The law allowed a potentially open-ended number of public authorities to share data and run this through a risk prediction model to flag individuals as potential fraudsters. This system had mainly been targeted at low-income neighborhoods where a significant part of the population has a migrant background. But this system was not the only one of its kind in the Netherlands. In January 2021, the Dutch government stepped down following the Child Benefit Scandal, which involved the algorithmic risk-profiling of beneficiaries on the basis of nationality. In this conversation, we will examine the origins, similarities and consequences of the SyRI and Child Benefit scandals. We will explore how such systems persist despite court rulings and political backlash, and represent only the tip of the iceberg of algorithmic government in the Netherlands.

Jun 9, 2022 10:00 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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