Benefits agency to review fraud detection system after privacy ruling
Benefits agency UWV is reviewing the systems it uses for fraud detection, to make sure they are legally tenable, the organization confirmed to NOS. This review was initiated after the court banned the government's anti-fraud system, so-called System Risk Indication (SyRI), because it infringed too much on citizens privacy.
UWV uses risk analysis to detect fraudsters. The benefits agency started doing so in 2018, after large-scale fraud with unemployment benefits was revealed by a Nieuwsuur investigation. "We are currently testing whether the ruling has legal consequences for the working method of the UWV," the spokesperson said to NOS.
SyRI was used by municipalities to tie information together in order to detect social assistance fraud. But the court ruled that the system made too great an infringement on citizens' private lives. The law that managed the use of SyRI was hard to monitor and not transparent enough, the court ruled.
According to the UWV, its anti-fraud systems are less far-reaching, because they only use data fro the UWV itself. With SyRI, data from multiple organizations were combined. "We compare information that a claimant gives us to determine a risk score," a spokesperson said to NOS. A UWV employee then determines whether to continue or stop a benefit payment - the system does not do so automatically, the spokesperson said.
IT professor Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius told NOS it is a good sign that the UWV is reviewing its systems. "Fighting fraud is important, but no carte blanche to do anything," he said to the broadcaster. "You have to be transparent about what data you use and what you do with that data." He would not be surprised if there are "skeletons in the closets" of more governments servicers. There are often calls for stricter controls, but often not the same amount of attention for privacy, he said.
The Tax Authority was also recently under fire for keeping a black list of potential fraudsters, resulting in dozens' of parents' childcare allowance being halted unjustly.