Fundamental Rights in Digital Welfare States: The Case of SyRI in the Netherlands

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Public authorities are increasingly using new technologies to perform public services. Worldwide, there are many examples of what the United Nations calls ‘digital welfare states’. Although governments argue that new technologies make their services more efficient and cost-effective, many however express concern about the ‘surveillance’ of citizens. Given the widespread emergence of digital welfare states, universal guidelines are needed to explore the opportunities they offer but also their legitimate boundaries. A Dutch court case on the System Risk Indication (SyRI) is one of the first to use human rights as a basis to assess the use of new technologies for fighting social security fraud. The court case may serve as an example of how human rights may offer relevant guidance to public authorities using new technologies in a responsible manner and making sure that these contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of all citizens.

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Bekker, S. (2021). Fundamental Rights in Digital Welfare States: The Case of SyRI in the Netherlands. In Netherlands Yearbook of International Law (Vol. 50, pp. 289–307). T.M.C. Asser Press.

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