Citizen scoring – towards a surveillance state for the poor?
Big data analytics is gaining traction among local and national governments. By feeding large swaths of personal data into algorithms, they try to predict which social benefit recipients are most likely to commit fraud or which children are most at risk of abuse or neglect, for instance. Does the ‘scoring’ of citizens by algorithms boost government efficiency or is it a threat to privacy, social justice and the transparency of government? Which legal restrictions apply to citizen scoring and which ethical boundaries should we set?
The Green European Foundation and Wetenschappelijk Bureau GroenLinks will try to find answers to these questions during a webinar. It will gather (local) politicians, activists, experts and practitioners from various European countries, in a coronavirus-proof way.
The webinar will start with three presentations:
Richard Wouters (Wetenschappelijk Bureau GroenLinks, NL) will briefly introduce the Charter for the Smart City that the Green European Foundation published in 2019. The Charter contains the warning that the use of big data to combat benefit fraud may lead to ‘class injustice’.
Lina Dencik (co-director of the Data Justice Lab, Cardiff University School of Journalism, UK) will present the results of an extensive investigation into the use of citizen scoring by local authorities and police forces in the United Kingdom.
Ronald Huissen (Bij Voorbaat Verdacht, NL) will explain the ground-breaking verdict against the Dutch fraud detection algorithm SyRI. In February, a court ordered the immediate halt of SyRI because it violated the right to privacy. Huissen represents the NGO coalition which filed the lawsuit against SyRI.
The first comments on the presentations will be delivered by Kathalijne Buitenweg (MP for GroenLinks, NL) and Martin Fodor (local councillor for the Green Party in Bristol, UK; rapporteur on smart cities for the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe).
The webinar will be chaired by Carlotta Weber (Green European Foundation).
Date & time
Friday 3 April, 14:00 - 17:00 CET.
We will use the Zoom video conferencing platform. It is recommend to join the webinar via a PC. You don’t need to install additional software. However, for the best user experience and full participation features, we recommend to install the Zoom Desktop App, which is for free.
Please note that the number of participants is limited, so register soon following this link.
Green European Foundation, A Charter for the Smart City, 2019
Data Justice Lab, Data Scores as Governance. Investigating uses of citizen scoring in public services, 2018
The Guardian, Automating Poverty series, 2019
AlgorithmWatch, Automating Society. Taking stock of automated decision-making in the EU, 2019
UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Report on the digital welfare state, 2019
The Hague District Court, SyRI legislation in breach of European Convention on Human Rights, 2020