Dutch DPA rejects idea of matching online searches from school computers on jihad-related phrases

BNR Newsradio reports that the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) rejects the idea of matching online searches made from school computers for jihad-related phrases. Here is a translation of that report (hyperlinks are mine):

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) sees nothing in placing anti-jihad software on school computers. It is too infringing on pupils’ privacy.

The software can track whether pupils use the school computer to search for jihad-related phrases. The Importunus Foundation is currently developing such a system, supported by the Ministry of Education. The system is in fact developed to fight cyberbullying, but is now extended to address radicalization.

The DPA finds that such software is too infringing on pupils’ privacy. Pupil organization LAKS also does not approve of the plan.

Wilbert Tomesen, vice chairperson of the DPA: “If the eventual idea is a sort of massive tracking system for children — innocent pupils — then that is a massive privacy infringement (…). The first question should be: is this, in this relation and in this context, really necessary? Are alternative methods available?”


When asked about his primary objection, Tomesen says: “The eventual consequence is that a dragnet is thrown over the deepest depths of human communication.”

Tomeses emphasizes that he does take the risks of radicalization into account. “Every sane person believes that schools should keep their eyes and ears open, and must be alert for radicalization. The next question is: is this the right means?”

The Importunus Foundation states to have close contact with the DPA about the system. “Well, not about this”, Tomesen responds, “We have contact with Importunus about their anti-bullying program. (…) We have certainly not discussed this program.”

For further reading on radicalization, see this lengthy blogpost (in Dutch).