Judge: FNV may join court case against government concerning risk profiling

The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) has officially joined the legal coalition in the court case against the System Risk Indication. The district court in The Hague declared the trade union confederation admissible in the procedure, after the FNV had announced in July that it would join the subpoena.

In the System Risk Indication (SyRI), large amounts of personal details stored in different government databases are connected. A secret risk model should then point if citizens present a heightened risk of misusing government funds and violating labour laws.

According to the plaintiffs, this system goes directly against several principles of the rule of law. SyRI treats all citizens as potential criminals and has already received a lot of criticism from experts and organisations. At the beginning of this year, a court case against SyRI was initiated, which was also joined by, besides several citizen- and human rights organisations, writers Tommy Wieringa and Maxim Februari.

The FNV deems the court case to be of great importance and decided to ask the court’s permission to join as a party on the plaintiffs’ side. The district court has now decided, in a verdict of 26 September 2018, to allow the FNV to join.

The FNV had indicated to advocate the rights of her members: people who work, those who are entitled to a pension and those who are entitled to an allowance, and was therefore looking to join on behalf of those interests. Especially the two latter groups are at high risk to be subdued to the SyRI-application, because of their dependence on government funds. Kitty Jong, vice-president of the FNV, announces that she is pleased with the verdict. “We represent the people who experience the most far-reaching consequences of this, so we are happy that we are able to join.”

The court has amongst others decided that the FNV has a sufficiently considerable interest to join the legal coalition against SyRI. The legal position of FNV-members may after all be negatively influenced by the outcome of the procedure.

The plaintiffs are pleased with this decision. Risk profiling through SyRI concerns every citizen in the Netherlands: the personal details of all citizens may be used, against their will and without their knowing, in an investigation of which the consequences may be far-reaching in their personal lives. The court case against SyRI has specifically been instigated by the plaintiffs in light of the broader public interest. The fact that the court has allowed the FNV to join as a co-plaintiff explicitly underlines this.

The plaintiffs are looking forward to the substantial part of the court case against SyRI. The hearing of the case is expected to take place within a couple of months.

Click here to read more about our file on profiling and SyRI.